one green planet
one green planet

Some of you may have heard that California is trying to have five common food additives banned from foods that are sold, manufactured, or distributed in the state.

These five chemicals are red dye #3, titanium dioxide, potassium bromate, bromated vegetable oil, and propylparaben. The chemicals are linked to cancer, reproductive issues, and behavioral issues in children.

All of the above-listed chemicals are banned in Europe already and red dye #3 has been banned by the FDA for use in cosmetics in the USA since the 1990s. Banned for cosmetics, but not banned for food!

Let’s take a close look at one of these additives, red dye #3, to find out what issues and concerns surround it.

What is Red Dye Number 3?

Food colorings are used in foods to make the basic ingredients more appealing to the consumer. If something is cherry flavored, the eye wants to see a bright red color.

Even though there might be no hint of real cherry in said food, as long as it is red, you can trick your mind into thinking there is.

Red Dye number three is a food coloring that is used today in foods such as maraschino cherries, and many popular candies. It is also known as erythrosine and is an artificial dye that is derived from petroleum.

The Environmental Working Group’s Eat Well Guide lists almost 3000 food products that contain red dye #3.

What Is the Issue with Red Dye Number 3?


Back in the 90s, the FDA banned red dye #3 from all cosmetics after studies showed that it caused cancer in animal experiments. This same dye, however, is still present in foods and medicines.

Red Dye #3 was found to cause damage to human liver cells in vitro and also have negative impacts on some children’s behavior. It has also been found to interfere with thyroid function and has been linked to potential cancer risks.

AB 418 Bill is the name of the bill that would have these five additives (including red dye #3) banned. The co-sponsor of the bill, State Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel, referred to these chemicals as “the worst of the worse”.

Last October, Consumer Reports as well as 20 other advocacy groups, signed a petition asking the FDA to prohibit the use of red dye #3 in foods and drugs.

California Assembly’s Committee on Health has approved AB 418. This puts them one step closer to having the Bill finalized.

The Bill has not yet gotten the California state legislator’s full chamber vote. After that, it has to pass the state Senate and gain Governor Gavin Newsom’s signature before it is finalized.

Should it go through, changes are proposed to take place in January 2025, when these chemicals will be phased out with newly formulated alternatives put in their place.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest advises parents to avoid food containing not just red dye #3 but also artificial dyes such as Yellow 5 and Red 40.

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