Governor Gavin Newsom signed the historic California Food Safety Act (CFSA) into law on October 7, 2023, which bans four specific potentially toxic food additives from being sold in products anywhere in the state. The law will go into effect on January 1, 2027, requiring food manufacturers to reformulate their products to comply with the new restrictions if they wish to continue selling them in the California market. 

The CFSA will have major implications on food and beverage companies operating or selling in the state when it goes into effect and potentially shape federal regulations. What kind of impact will the new law have on the food and beverage industry? How might it impact the regulatory landscape moving forward? Here are the four biggest takeaways of the new law for manufacturers: 

1. California is targeting food additives, not food products. 

The CFSA is the first in the U.S. to prohibit the manufacture, sale, and distribution of food products that contain brominated vegetable oil, potassium bromate, propylparaben, or red dye No. 3 due to their carcinogenic risks and potential to cause other health problems. Instead of banning specific products, the new law requires manufacturers to make minor modifications to their recipes to eliminate prohibited additives.  

What This Means: The new California ban on these food additives comes after growing public concern about consuming carcinogens and endocrine disruptors. Specifically, red dye No. 3 has already been banned by the FDA as an ingredient in cosmetics

2. Manufacturers could phase these additives out nationally. 

Once the law goes into effect in January 2027, retailers will no longer be able to sell any products containing the banned food additives in the state. Manufacturers need a robust plan to adjust their recipes, eliminate prohibited additives, ensure compliance, and mitigate liability with consumers before this date. This could inadvertently impact recipes at the national level if manufacturers don’t want to make separate batches of products specifically formulated for California. 

What This Means: Manufacturers may gradually phase these additives out of their recipes entirely to avoid compliance challenges and stay ahead of regulations. 

3. The industry still needs guidance from regulators. 

At this juncture, the language of the California Food Safety Act is broad, with clarity needed for several important terms that are critical for compliance. To effectively navigate the new law and make informed decisions, leaders need clarification and specific guidelines from California government officials on how to meet the CFSA's provisions. 

What This Means: Guidance from regulators is essential for industry players to understand their responsibilities and will not be able to plan a course of action until they have clarification. 

4. More state and federal regulations are likely in the future. 

Given the history and current state of food safety regulations, it’s likely that more similar state and federal food safety laws will emerge in the future. Currently, New York state already has legislation similar to the CFSA pending in their state that will ban the four additives covered in California’s law, as well as titanium dioxide. In addition, the time lag between California's 2008 ban on trans fats and the FDA's nationwide ban in 2015 suggests a pattern where states take proactive measures, setting the stage for eventual federal regulations.  

 What This Means: As concerns over food safety and additives grow, states may continue to introduce their own legislation, potentially prompting federal agencies like the FDA to take broader actions to ensure consistency and protect public health. 

Navigate the California Food Safety Act With Expert Guidance 

The California Food Safety Act has the potential to significantly impact food and beverage manufacturers' operations and requires a thorough understanding of its nuances to ensure compliance. With the ban on specific chemical additives, manufacturers may need to reformulate products, source alternative ingredients, or adjust labeling and packaging to meet the new requirements. Industry leaders need reliable support and guidance to navigate these changes effectively.   

AIB International is a trusted educator and partner in regulatory compliance management and can provide invaluable expertise and assistance to manufacturers throughout the process. Sign up for our newsletter to stay updated on the latest news about CFSA implementation and other regulatory changes impacting the food safety landscape.  

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