Fresh Food

Prop 65 Gets New Legs

Food businesses field new hazardous ingredient notices after California law is amended

The Lempert Report

Take a walk through almost every building in California and you’ll see Proposition 65-related signs with cancer and toxic warnings. For most people, it is invisible and not many pay attention or even read the warnings.

Amendments to Prop 65 that were issued in 2016 took effect Aug. 30, 2018, with changes involving the “clear and reasonable ” warning requirement for labels and signs that may be required to bring a business into compliance.

Adopted by voters by a 2-to-1 margin in 1986, Prop 65, or the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act as now amended, requires the disclosure of the type of chemical and exposure on covered products. Notices must disclose whether the warning is about the risk of cancer, reproductive toxins or both.

Food Industry Counsel Shawn Stevens said so-called “60-day” notices were filed against 308 food companies so far in 2019, compared to 330 during 2018.

In 2019, Starbucks was ordered by a Los Angeles judge to put a Prop 65 cancer warning on the coffee it sells in California. Roasting coffee–and burning toast—produces cancer-causing acrylamide. About 90 other companies including, McDonald’s and Dunkin’ selling coffee in California, fell under the same ruling.

The Prop 65 list of hazardous ingredients or chemicals is updated at least once a year and includes about 900 chemicals.


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