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California Legislators Pass Bills Prohibiting Certain Chemicals in Food and Beverages

California lawmakers are currently reviewing numerous bills before the end of the legislative session on Thursday. If approved, these bills will be sent to Governor Gavin Newsom for consideration. The deadline for Governor Newsom’s decision is October 14, at which point he can choose to sign them into law, veto them, or let them become law without his signature. It is rare for the state Legislature to override a veto from the governor, regardless of political party.

One of the bills passed on Tuesday makes California the first state to ban four chemicals – red dye no. 3, potassium bromate, brominated vegetable oil, and propyl paraben – from processed food and drinks sold in the state by 2027. These chemicals are currently used in popular products like Peeps, but they have already been banned by the European Union and other countries due to scientific research linking them to health issues, including cancer. The author of the bill, Democratic Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel, stated that this legislation does not ban any foods or products; it simply requires food companies to make minor modifications to their recipes.

An earlier version of the bill included a ban on titanium dioxide, which is used in Skittles, but this provision was removed in the state Senate.

Another bill passed by the state Assembly requires companies that earn more than $500 million annually to disclose the financial risks posed by climate change to their businesses and their plans to address these risks. Originally, the bill required companies to report this information annually starting in 2024, but it was recently changed to begin in 2026 and to mandate reporting every other year. Supporters of the bill, including major companies like IKEA and Microsoft, believe that this information is essential for individuals and lawmakers when making investment decisions. Opponents argue that the bill is burdensome for companies and premature, as the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission may approve rules regarding climate risk disclosure.

Additionally, the Senate passed a bill that mandates teaching students about the causes, effects, and mitigation strategies for climate change from first grade through high school. This bill aims to ensure that climate change is included in the school curriculum and that students are educated about the importance of adapting to the effects of climate change.

These bills reflect California’s commitment to environmental and public health concerns, as well as promoting climate change education.

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