Proposed food additive ban in Illinois that would be strictest in nation already getting pushback

Alexi Giannoulias

Illinois Secretary of State Alexi Giannoulias speaks at an event on Tuesday, Jan. 23. | BlueRoomStream

A proposed bill that would ban certain food additives in Illinois is already receiving pushback. 

The Illinois Food Safety Act calls for prohibiting the use of certain additives to food, including brominated vegetable oil, Red Dye No. 3 and titanium dioxide. The bill’s sponsors said the additives have been linked to serious health problems, including hyperactivity, reproductive issues, hormonal damage and increased risk of cancer. 

“I want Illinoisans to be more confident when grocery shopping that they are not purchasing products that are laced with ingredients classified as toxic and harmful for human consumption,” said State Sen. Willie Preston, D-Chicago.

Last fall, California enacted a law that banned four additives, which takes effect in 2027, and New York is considering similar legislation.

Secretary of State Alexi Giannoulias said he is supporting the legislation because he oversees the largest organ donation program in the country.  

“Which is dependent on healthy organs for individuals suffering from life threatening diseases or injuries that need transplants,” said Giannoulias. 

The legislation also calls on an Illinois-based university or research-focused institution to study the health risks associated with two other additives – butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT), which would be subject to additional regulations if it is determined they pose a significant health risk.  

The Illinois Manufacturers Association has gone on record that the well-intentioned legislation would set a dangerous precedent by usurping the role of scientists and experts at the U.S. Food & Drug Administration.

“This measure would create a confusing and costly patchwork of regulations for food manufacturing, which is the single largest segment of Illinois’ manufacturing economy, generating more than $135 billion in economic impact each year,” said IMA President and CEO Mark Denzler in a statement.  

The National Confectioners Association is also speaking out against the proposed ban.

“This bill would replace a uniform national food safety system with a patchwork of inconsistent state requirements created by legislative fiat that will increase food costs, undermine consumer confidence, and create confusion around food safety,” said Christopher Gindlesperger, senior vice president of public affairs. “We should be relying on the scientific rigor of the FDA in terms of evaluating the safety of food ingredients and additives.”

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