California’s confectionery product dye ban sparks ‘nanny state’ reaction

As industry observers have duly noted, the decision in California this month to place a ban on specific red dyes used in some Halloween confectionery treats has been met with charges of a ‘nanny state’ seeking to overly control food companies and consumers in making their food choices.

Whether there are actual scientific considerations being placed behind such significant moves is in truth hard to scrutinise, given that the only parallels appear to be when similar mandates were handed down several decades ago within the cosmetics sector on supposed health grounds.

If there are indeed hard facts that prove any issues with the use of colouring, then those concerns are clearly warranted, but it is perhaps unsurprising to see the National Confectioners Association call on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to engage on the issue and state that product lines presently on the market are in fact fully safe to consume – which the key sweets and snacks organisation firmly believes is the case.

As John Downs has stated, “Food safety is our number one priority,” which has led him to take his concerns to the FDA on the matter with the aim of seeking some swift resolution to the issue, which could have a notable negative impact on the sector, should other US states consider issuing bans on certain ingredients.

There’s clearly some significant concern over the uncertainty that this move in California has created, and it will be interesting to observe how this scenario plays out, and whether the FDA uses its clear influence to lay the matter to rest or otherwise.

Certainly, as the NCA has raised, with consumers presently facing a cost of living crisis around the world, potentially removing existing confectionery lines from shelves without the scientific data to fully justify such measures, seems to many sector observers as being a step too far.

Neill Barston, editor, Confectionery Production

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