Tribune: California: the anti-red state

Before your blood starts to boil, I’m not talking about Communists, Republicans, or Buckeyes fans. This is something much more pervasive that affects all of us. Red dye #3.

If you’re old enough, you remember the disappearance of the original red M&M, which was discontinued in 1976 when the FDA removed red dye #2 from its safe list. We somehow survived red-M&M-less until 1987 when they returned using red dye #40 (except in Europe, where that dye is banned; this should probably be of some concern to us, but that’s a topic for another day).

However, red candies are again on the chopping block in California, following the passage of AB 418 in 2023,1 which, beginning January 1, 2027, prohibits the sale of any food product containing any of the following: brominated vegetable oil, potassium bromate, propylparaben, and red dye #3.

Candies such as Skittles and Nerds contain red dye #3, as do pink and purple Peeps, certain chocolate milk products, and boxed cake mixes.2 The Environmental Working Group’s Eat Well Guide returns a list of around 3,000 products containing the dye.3 M&Ms do not appear on the list; however, Mars didn’t use red dye #2 in its red M&Ms, either, but discontinued them anyway to avoid consumer confusion.

The future of the red M&M again hangs in the balance. And if it’s discontinued, maybe Mars will just replace it with more blue ones.