The global ramifications of California’s ban on synthetic food colour Red 3

In this article by Oterra, we dive into Red 3 and how California’s recent banning on the colouring agent will affect food producers in Asia-Pacific.

In a pivotal move, California has enacted a ban on Red 3, also known as erythrosine, a synthetic food colouring agent, which has long adorned the foods and beverages we consume with vibrant shades of red and pink.  This ban is not just a local concern; it carries far-reaching implications, not only in the United States but across the world.

Understanding Red 3 and the California ban

Red 3, widely used in the food and beverage industries for its signature red colour, faces safety concerns that have spurred regulatory action in California.  The synthetic dye has already been banned for use in cosmetics and externally applied drugs by the US FDA since the 1990s. On 7 Oct 2023, the California Food Safety Act was signed into law, heralding a new era in food regulation. This comprehensive act effectively prohibits the manufacturing, sale, delivery, distribution, storage, or offering for sale of any product intended for human consumption containing Red 3, starting from 1 Jan 2027.

This ban extends to all food products meant for human consumption in California, including both retail and restaurant sectors. Notably, non-human consumption products like pet food are exempt from this restriction. It is worth mentioning that the initial bill considered both Red 3 and titanium dioxide, but the latter was later excluded from the legislation before passage in the California legislature.

Given the complexities of the supply chain and manufacturing processes, it is unlikely that US food manufacturers or international companies exporting processed foods to the United States will maintain dual product formulations for one state. Instead, they are likely to replace Red 3 with alternative colour additives authorised in the US.

Read the full article here.