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State bill aims to prohibit common additive in public school lunches: '[These] nonessential ingredients ... make food appear more vibrant'

"The idea here … just made a lot of sense to me."

"The idea here ... just made a lot of sense to me."

Photo Credit: iStock

A new California bill is taking aim at potentially harmful food additives in school meals. That's great news for kids' health and the environment.

The proposal, introduced by state lawmaker Jesse Gabriel on March 12, would prohibit California's public schools from offering food items containing any of several common dyes and colorants, including blue 1, red 40, yellow 5, and titanium dioxide.

These additives are found in many products, from colorful cereals and sports drinks to cake mixes and canned vegetables, according to the Guardian.

A growing body of research has drawn potential links between consuming these synthetic dyes and increased hyperactivity and behavioral issues in children. By removing these unnecessary chemicals from school food, the bill aims to better support students' learning and well-being.

As Gabriel explains, the targeted additives "all are nonessential ingredients ... The whole point of it is to make food appear more vibrant." In other words, these dyes serve no nutritional purpose — they just make food look more appealing.

And there's an exciting environmental upside, too: The bill could motivate big food companies to phase out these artificial additives given the purchasing power of California's expansive public school system. That would mean cleaner food and a healthier planet for all of us.

As California Assemblymember Gabriel, who himself has ADHD, puts it: "The idea here that we would protect [kids] from those chemicals at school so that they can learn and perform at their highest level just made a lot of sense to me."

Other states are already following California's lead, with similar bills introduced in Illinois, Missouri, New York, and Washington. It's encouraging to see more leaders taking action to get these avoidable chemicals out of our food supply.

So here's to California lighting the way toward healthier school meals and a more natural food future. With any luck, AB 2316 will inspire positive changes that benefit our kids and our environment nationwide.

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