Desperate times call for desperate measures. When your stomach starts rumbling, you’ll eat anything, even if it’s not necessarily good for you. Anything that keeps you awake and prevents you from snapping at someone because you’re hangry will do. 

Hangry you might not be thinking about the ingredients of the snack you just grabbed from the vending machine, but lawmakers in California are. Last October, Governor Newsom signed a bill that will ban four common ingredients used in American foods from being sold in California. 

READ MORE: 9 Forbidden Foods That Are Banned in the State of California

One of those ingredients is an additive called Red 3. According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, this chemical has been banned in Japan, China, the UK, Australia, New Zealand and the European Union (with the exception of a few cherry products. It’s a synthetic coloring used in tons of foods that you can grab off the shelf at Vons, Ralph’s or Walmart. In fact, several of those stores use Red 3 in their store branded foods. 

Why Is Red 3 Dangerous?

Also known as Erythrosine, the dye is derived from petroleum. According to the FDA’s website, companies have not been allowed to use coloring in cosmetics or external drugs in the United States since 1990. However, they are still allowed to use the dye itself in food and drugs that are meant to be ingested. 

While informing the public about the use of the dye in a popular Easter candy, Consumer Reports explains that it is a known carcinogen and may lead to cancer in animals. Research shows that lab rats who were fed large quantities of the artificial coloring later developed thyroid tumors. They also suggest that Red 3 may be linked to hyperactivity and other behavioral problems in kids. 

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The Easter candy they warned parents about were purple and pink Peeps manufactured by Just Born. Since the Consumer Reports article was published, the company says that 2024 will be the last year that newly manufactured Peeps will contain the coloring. They plan to tweak the recipe and find an alternative before the seasonal candy goes on sale in 2025. 

Which Foods Will Be Banned in California?


The ban didn’t go into effect immediately after Governor Newsome signed the bill. Manufacturers have until 2027 to do the same thing that Just Born did and remove Red 3 from their recipes. If they don’t, their products will no longer be sold in California. 

If Red 3 is as dangerous as these researchers believe, this could be a really good thing for the entire country. It’s unlikely that big companies like Kellanova (formerly Kellogg’s,) Nabisco, Kroger and Walmart would make versions of their products that would only be sold in California. The recipe changes would likely be felt nationwide. 

Right now there are thousands of products that still have Red 3 in them. Here are some of the most common ones that you may pull from the shelves while doing your regular shopping. 

15 Popular Foods That Will Be Illegal in California Before You Know It

In 2023, California passed legislation banning the use of Red 3 in foods starting in 2027. These products currently contain the soon to be illegal additive.

Gallery Credit: Michelle Heart

KEEP READING: 9 Forbidden Foods That Are Banned in Idaho, Washington, Utah and California

Due to government regulations, these are foods that are forbidden in most of the United States.

Gallery Credit: Michelle Heart

9 Everyday Foods That Are Legal in California, Forbidden Elsewhere

These foods are easy to find on store shelves at Albertsons, Winco or wherever you buy your groceries in the United States, they're banned in other places!

Gallery Credit: Michelle Heart

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