These days, there is so much discussion about what to eat but not so much about what NOT to eat. 
Newly proposed laws in California and New York State will seek to prohibit manufacture and sale of products which contain additives that have been linked to cancer and other medical problems.  
Although there are many suspect toxic chemicals, California Assembly Bill 418, will target five key additives that are considered the “worst of the worst” according to Environmental Working Group (EWG) Senior Vice President for Government Affairs Scott Faber. 
On Tuesday, April 11, the California Assembly’s Committee on Health approved the landmark bill, banning five of the most harmful chemicals found in candy, cereals, and other processed food. California will be the first to impose such a prohibition, if said bill is enacted. 
“The legislation, A.B. 418, by Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel (D-Woodland Hills), would end the use of brominated vegetable oil, potassium bromate, propyl paraben, Red Dye No. 3 and titanium dioxide in popular food products sold throughout the state. The chemicals are linked to serious health problems, such as a higher risk of cancer, nervous system damage and hyperactivity,” states the EWG’s news release.
According to EWG, “European regulators have already banned all five substances from use in food, with the narrow exception of Red No. 3 in candied cherries. Given the size of California’s economy, A.B. 418 would set an important precedent for improving the safety net of many processed foods.”
As CNN earlier reported, if A.B. 418 is passed, “the bill would go into effect on January 1, 2025.”
According to CNN: “The chemicals can be used in foods because of a loophole in the US Food and Drug Administration’s Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act that’s known as the Generally Recognized as Safe rule.
“In the context of food, the guidance states the use of certain additives is not subject to premarket approval requirements if the additives meet specific criteria that experts have deemed to be safe for consumption.” 
Due to pending legislation, an FDA spokesperson declined to speak with CNN on the matter.
In New York, State Senate Bill S6055A and Assembly Bill A6424 “prohibit certain food additives and food color additives beginning January 1, 2025.” 

The Hazardous Five

1. Red Dye #3

We have heard about Red Dye #3 for so long. It is included in over 3,000 food products. It causes cancer in animals and the FDA has banned it from cosmetics in 1990. However, it is still being used in food products from maraschino cherries to cherry-flavored candies, icing, and shakes. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) action to ban this additive has been pending for many years.

2. Titanium Dioxide

Titanium Dioxide acts as a whitener and anti-caking agent in thousands of food items including ice cream, pizza, salad dressings, and frozen dairy products. Titanium dioxide damages DNA and the immune system and was banned in the EU in 2022, following an assessment by the European Food and Safety Authority in 2021. According to, this additive has also been classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer as a Group 2B carcinogen.

3. Brominated Vegetable Oil

Brominated Vegetable Oil (BVO) has “bromine added to it and is used in small amounts to keep the citrus flavoring from floating to the top in some beverages,” states the FDA. This additive is an emulsifier that is mostly found in fruit drinks and sodas. Major brands such as Coca-Cola and Pepsi recently stopped using this in their products.

4. Potassium Bromate

Potassium Bromate has been classified as “possibly carcinogenic to humans” by the International Agency for Research. It can be found in baked goods such as bread, cookies, and tortillas and acts as an oxidizing agent. 

5. Propyl Paraben

Propyl Paraben is used as an antimicrobial preservative and is used mostly in pastries and tortillas, as well as in cosmetics and personal care products. According to the EWG, there is “clear evidence of endocrine disruption in at least one animal study,” as well as “associated effects on male fertility.”

How to Avoid Dangerous Additives

Pending the 2025 enactment of A.B. 418 in California, and S.B. S6055A and A.B. A6424 in New York, as well as FDA action on legislation, my best advice (as I have written so many times in the past) is to EAT RIGHT, EAT HEALTHY, and EAT REAL FOOD.
Additionally, avoid eating processed food and read labels and ingredients of packaged food VERY CAREFULLY. I highly recommend opting for packaged food with a short list of ingredients and avoiding ones that have ingredients that you cannot even pronounce.
While many manufacturers have already voluntarily removed these hazardous ingredients from their products, exercising due diligence and doing a thorough check of ingredients are still strongly advised.
Admittedly, there are still several hazardous chemicals/additives that have not been mentioned here that are still of utmost concern, but hopefully, this will be the beginning of a trend to healthier and safer packaged/processed food for everyone.

The Bottom Line

Having awareness of toxic chemicals in food adds to our knowledge, and as the IMF always emphasizes to the myeloma community that it serves, “Knowledge is power.” Every little bit counts when it comes to ensuring our safety and to improving outcomes for all myeloma patients. 

Image of Dr. Brian G.M. DurieProfessor of Medicine, Hematologist/Oncologist, and Honoree MD at the University of Brussels, Dr. Brian G.M. Durie is Chairman Emeritus and Chief Scientific Officer of the IMF. Dr. Durie is also the Chairman of the International Myeloma Working Group (IMWG)—a consortium of more than 250 myeloma experts from around the world—and leads the IMF’s Black Swan Research Initiative® (BSRI). 


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