SPRINGFIELD — State Senator Willie Preston advanced legislation to ban harmful chemicals in candy, soda and other food items sold and produced in Illinois.

“The FDA has failed to take action on this pressing issue,” said Preston (D-Chicago). “Safer alternatives are already being used in the EU and other places. We need to make sure that safer choices are available to families in Illinois and hopefully, other states will follow so all consumers have access to the healthiest options.”

Over the last few decades, studies show that the number of chemicals being added to foods is steadily increasing and are linked to heightened health risks.

Following the recently passed California Food Safety Act, Preston’s measure would ban specific, dangerous food additives from being used in the manufacture, delivery, distribution or sale of food products. These additives include brominated vegetable oil, potassium bromate, propylparaben and red dye No. 3. Additionally, the legislation calls for studies on the potential health risks of BHA and BHT, two chemicals commonly found in gum, snack foods and other common grocery items.

“As our understanding of human health increases and the science tells us that a substance is harmful, it’s crucial that we get that substance out of our food supply,” said State Representative Anne Stava-Murray (D-Downers Grove), who plans to lead discussions of the bill in the House. “Illinois families need to know that the food they buy for themselves and their children is safe. You just can’t put a price on that.”

Preston’s legislation includes provisions for manufacturers and distributors to adopt safer alternatives and update their recipes by Jan. 1, 2028, and establishes penalties for multiple non-compliance violations.

“All Americans deserve foods free from red dye No. 3 and other unsafe food chemicals,” said a spokesperson of the Center for Science in the Public Interest. “With the bipartisan passage of the Illinois Food Safety Act from the Illinois Senate today, we move one major step closer to realizing that goal. CSPI is grateful for Senator Preston’s leadership on this issue and urges the Illinois House of Representatives and Governor Pritzker to act swiftly to get this bill signed into law. The momentum is swelling, and industry reformulation and FDA action are long overdue.”

“This isn’t about making people paranoid or distrustful,” said Preston. “This is about keeping children and families safe from toxic chemicals and making sure they are informed and have access to safer, alternative options.”

Senate Bill 2637 passed the Senate Thursday and heads to the House for further consideration.