California schools could ban Flamin’ Hot Cheetos under a new law


California schools could ban Flamin’ Hot Cheetos under a new law

Fast Break, education, politics in California

Nathan Solis
Cindy Carcamo

March 12, 2024

The days of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos in California schools may be numbered.

A new bill aims to ban food products in public schools that contain artificial colors, including the ingredient that makes Cheetos pop with their signature yellow and red colors.

Lawmakers argue that developing young minds are harmed by the chemical ingredients and that federal guidelines have not been updated in decades.

Assembly Bill 2316 focuses on six ingredients

blue 1, blue 2, green 3, red 40, titanium dioxide, yellow 5 and yellow 6 which are commonly used as artificial coloring in foods, drinks, sweets and some medicines and vitamins.

Assembly Bill 2316 targets six synthetic food dyes: blue 1, blue 2, green 3, red 40, yellow 5 and yellow 6

as well as titanium dioxide dye, ingredients often used for artificial coloring


including sweets



drinks and some medicines and vitamins.

Red 40 and yellow 6 are found in Takis, Doritos and Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, the main culprits that turn snack lovers’ fingers a powdery crimson red. Blue 1 can be found in Froot Loops and other artificial colorings can be found in Jolly Ranchers, M&Ms, Sour Patch Kids and Mountain Dew.

Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel (D-Encino) introduced the bill, emphasizing that this is not an outright ban on specific products, but on those chemical ingredients.

“This is not going to ban the sale of these foods in the state of California,” Gabriel said Tuesday during a news conference touting the bill. “This is not a food ban. This is not a ban on Flamin’ Hot Cheetos in California.”

The guy who didn’t invent Flamin’ Hot Cheetos

Flamin’ Hot Cheetos’ parent company, Frito-Lay, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

A 2021 study from the California Environmental Protection Agency found that consuming synthetic food dyes can lead to hyperactivity and other neurological behaviors in some children. Gabriel said he was diagnosed with ADHD as a child, and his own son has the same neurodevelopmental disorder.

Flamin Hot Cheetos are not only ubiquitous among many snackers, but they are also a cultural phenomenon that has inspired art, rap videos, fashion and restaurant menu items.

The snacks’ spicy kick and neon red dust are as popular as they are controversial, with some schools already banning the product.

Jazmn Urrea has used the crunchy, dark red snack as a medium in her art. One of her pieces is called Pasarela de Chucherias, which translates to a junk food aisle

consists of

consists of a thick circle of Flamin Hot Cheetos lying flat on the floor.

The 33-year-old, who lives in South Los Angeles, applauded the proposed legislation, saying the community she grew up in and others like it are food deserts littered with convenience stores selling snacks, rather than supermarkets or farmers markets. meaning there is little access to fresh food.

The school should be an oasis, she said Tuesday. It’s not that I want to completely ban people from having their snacks. But at least in schools it can be more of a food oasis. Ultimately, it will make our food choices safer.

The Los Angeles Unified School District serves approximately 530,000 meals daily. The district did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the proposed legislation or whether any of the regular items on its menus contain the artificial food colorings targeted by the bill.

Edgar Zazueta, a spokesman for the Assn. of the California School Administrators said there aren’t many schools selling the snacks targeted by the ban. ‘The biggest impact would be on student shops that often sell items for their ASB [Associated Student Body] for student fees,” Zazueta said. Column: Why the Flamin’ Hot Cheetos movie is both indulgent and pernicious

Gabriel’s proposed legislation arrives just months after Gov. Gavin Newsom has signed a statewide bill into law banning “toxic” ingredients found in some soft drinks and snack foods. That bill will come into effect in 2027 and prompted Just Born, which makes the colorful marshmallow Peeps, to introduce red dye No. 3 from its



The MP says his latest bill is a means to protect children at school. No details are yet known about how the ingredient ban would be rolled out.

“The science here is complicated, but the purpose of the bill is not,” Gabriel said. “It’s about protecting our students from chemicals that have been proven to harm children and hinder their ability to learn.”

Under the bill, elementary schools would be allowed to sell food products containing the banned ingredients at fundraising events, either off campus or at least 30 minutes after the end of the school day.

The US’s first ban on ‘toxic’ food additives lands on Newsom’s desk

The bill is intended to encourage manufacturers who want to continue selling their products in schools to change their recipes with alternative ingredients or risk school districts across the state using alternative brands that do not contain artificial colors.

“So instead of getting the color from a synthetic food coloring, they could get it from beet juice, turmeric, pomegranate juice or any of these other natural ingredients,” Gabriel said. “We know these companies are capable of making a safer version of their products.”

End of the rainbow? California Bill Targets Skittles and Other Snacks With Toxic Chemicals Scott Faber of the Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit organization sponsoring Gabriel’s bill along with Consumer Reports, recommends alternative snacks that do not contain food dyes, such as Rice Krispies and Kellogg’s Eggo Waffles and CheezIt. He accused the federal government of not better regulating food ingredients that could be harmful to both children and adults. “The truth is that the FDA is not doing its job,” Faber said during Tuesday’s briefing. The FDA Food and Drug Administration did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The National Confectioners Assn., a trade group that represents the interests of U.S. candy companies, said in response to Gabriel’s proposed legislation that the FDA needs to “wake up and get involved.”

“These activists are dismantling our national food safety system state by state in an emotionally driven campaign without scientific support,” the group said in a statement.

“[The] FDA

The FDA is the only agency in America that can stop this sensational agenda, which is not based on facts and science.

The pastry group claims there are substitute ingredients


should be vetted by the FDA and advised that there are no alternatives to Red Dye No. 3 or Titanium Dioxide approved by the federal government.

None of the dyes suggested in the ingredient ban are part of a natural diet, says Dana Hunnes, a senior dietitian and adjunct assistant professor at UCLA’s Fielding School of Public Health.

Instead, they are manufactured,

Hunnes wrote in an email:

and “unnecessary, unhealthy, carcinogenic, likely anti-inflammatory (which in itself is a risk factor for cancer and other chronic diseases).”

Urrea, the artist, was introduced to Flamin Hot Cheetos before kindergarten, she said. In sixth grade, she said she got sick after eating too many snacks and had to have her stomach pumped. She also had her appendix removed.

The snack has had a profound effect on her life and her art. She rarely eats Cheetos now, but thinks they can be enjoyed in moderation. She said she largely stopped eating Flamin Hot Cheetos after researching the ingredients in preparation for her artwork in 2016. She said she reuses the Cheetos in her artwork.

And it still has that dye in it, she said. They haven’t fallen apart yet for me. They are in storage but are very vibrant and retain that color. “That gives you something to think about.”

Times staff writer Howard Blume contributed to this report.


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