Tag Archives California

California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) is considering adopting rules under Proposition 65 (Prop. 65) that are intended to prevent overexposure to beneficial nutrients in food. The agency’s “Initial Statement of Reasons” for the proposed rules, still in draft, note that “[e]xcessive exposures to some [vitamins and minerals necessary to promote human health] have the potential to cause cancer or adverse reproductive effects.” OEHHA plans to establish the level of a listed chemical that does not constitute an exposure within the meaning of Prop. 65 and thus would not require warnings. Previous drafts indicated that the agency would rely on “Recommended Dietary Allowance” levels, but the most recent version indicates that levels for individual chemicals will be made on the basis of a chemical-by-chemical evaluation. OEHHA has also apparently indicated its intention to address human nutrients and plant nutrients separately. According to the California League of Food Processors,…

The Air Resources Board (ARB) of California’s Environmental Protection Agency has published a request for research concepts for its 2009-2010 annual research plan. Among the general areas of research that ARB would like to fund are issues related to agriculture and to health and exposure. The deadline for concept submissions is January 20, 2009. Due to anticipated budget shortfalls, the agency has indicated that co-funded proposals are more likely to be approved and funded. ARB is interested in funding research relating to confined animal facility operations emissions, pesticide emission assessments, air emissions in agricultural ecosystems involving “nitrogen fate from fertilizer application,” and “[c]omparative assessment of emissions from various agricultural practices, including conservation management, conservation tillage, and use of equipment to reduce particulate entrainment emissions or VOC emissions.” Under the “health and exposure” rubric, ARB is seeking concept submissions relating to the “[i]mpact of nanoparticles in products and materials on personal…

The California Environmental Contaminant Biomonitoring Program’s Scientific Guidance Panel decided at a December 4-5, 2008, meeting that it would designate diesel exhaust and flame retardants as the first substances the state will monitor in humans under a 2006 law (SB 1379) requiring the establishment of a state biomonitoring program. The panel also reportedly agreed that the program’s pilot project would focus on analyzing maternal-infant blood samples from 250 subject pairs. A spokesperson with the state’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) apparently indicated that antimicrobials and synthetic hormones used in animal husbandry will be discussed at a future meeting. Environmentalists who attended the meeting reportedly urged the panel to prioritize other chemicals such as bisphenol A, nano silver and phthalates. According to a press report, panel members asked OEHHA legal counsel whether another 2006 law (A.B. 289) could be applied to the biomonitoring program. That law apparently authorizes a state…

The federal government has sued a California dairy that ships raw milk to other states, claiming that the company falsely labels its products as “pet food” to exploit a purported loophole in the law about raw milk distributed in interstate commerce and makes claims that its products can treat or prevent a host of diseases without Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval. U.S. v. Organic Pastures Dairy Co. LLC, No. 08-00692 (E.D. Cal., filed November 20, 2008). The complaint requests that the dairy be permanently enjoined from shipping (i) products across state lines whether labeled as “for human consumption or pet food” and (ii) “products with labeling that makes them drugs” under federal law. According to the complaint, the FDA issued the defendants a warning letter in February 2005, stating that distribution of raw milk in interstate commerce violates the law and that failure to comply could lead to product…

California EPA’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) has scheduled a public workshop on December 3, 2008, to discuss how food retailers can provide warnings about foods containing chemicals that are listed under Proposition 65 as chemicals known to the state to cause cancer or reproductive hazards. The agency formed a workgroup to address the matter and has drafted “operating principles” based on its input. Among the concepts the agency is considering are a central “clearinghouse” of warning messages created by food manufacturers, point-of-sale pamphlets, cash-register-receipt warnings, on-product warning labels, or shelf signs. Public comments can be submitted during the workshop or in writing until January 16, 2009.

California EPA’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) has reportedly delayed a decision about whether to list bisphenol A (BPA) under Proposition 65 because it lacks sufficient staff to complete needed research. OEHHA’s Developmental & Reproductive Toxicant Identification Committee (DART) was apparently scheduled to decide whether to include BPA on the list of chemicals known to the state to be reproductive toxicants at a November 20, 2008, meeting, but the chemical, which is used in plastic bottles and to line metal cans, was removed from the agenda and will be addressed at “the earliest possible meeting date following the meeting on Nov. 20.” This may occur a year from now because the DART committee meets annually. See Inside Cal/EPA, October 31, 2008. Meanwhile, the Environmental Working Group, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit consumer and environmental advocacy organization, has apparently called on major food companies and infant formula manufacturers to “immediately…

California residents this week voted overwhelmingly in favor of Proposition 2 (Prop. 2), an animal welfare measure banning the use of some crates for hens, pregnant pigs and veal calves that do not allow the animals to turn around, lie down or extend their limbs. In addition, the law will require farmers to build pens and cages allowing full range of motion in an effort to eliminate high-density battery cages and reduce Salmonella outbreaks. Prop. 2, which takes effect in 2015, also levies fines of $1,000 or six months in jail for violations. Because most of the state's pork and veal producers have already prohibited confined cages, some agricultural economists expect Prop. 2 to have a disproportionate impact on the $323-million egg industry. The industry-backed California for Safe Food group spent $8.5 million to oppose the measure, as egg farmers expressed concern that the cost of retrofitting their operations will…

A California appeals court has determined that a misreading of prior case law led a trial court judge to erroneously overturn a jury verdict in favor of a plaintiff who alleged that she was made ill from exposure to campylobacter at defendant’s restaurant. Sarti v. Salt Creek Ltd., No. G037818 (Cal. Ct. App., 4th App. Dist., Div. 3, decided October 27, 2008). So ruling, the court reinstated $725,000 in economic damages and $2.5 million in noneconomic damages and allowed the plaintiff to recover her costs on appeal. The trial court granted the defendant’s motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict, after determining, under a heightened causation standard, that reasonable inferences alone cannot prove a food poisoning case. The appeals court exhaustively analyzes the court’s reasoning in Minder v. Cielito Lindo Restaurant, 67 Cal.App.3d 1003 (1977), and shows how the court in that case misread prior case law “to preclude the use…

California EPA’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) has scheduled a workshop for December 12, 2008, to discuss possible regulatory language that would apply to foods or crops with added nutrients that exceed levels considered safe under Proposition 65. According to OEHHA’s notice, “this set of regulations, if adopted, will only apply to chemicals that are already on the Proposition 65 list, or that are added to the list in the future. The exposure level established in these potential regulations for a listed chemical would not limit the amount of the chemical that can be added to any particular product and would not restrict the sale or availability of any food product or supplement. Instead, these levels could be used by businesses subject to the [Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement] Act to determine when a warning is required for an exposure to the listed chemicals in question in a food…

A California jury has reportedly awarded an organic farm in Santa Cruz $1 million for the contamination of its edible herbs by pesticides applied on neighboring farms. Jacobs Farm/Del Cabo v. W. Farm Serv., Inc., No. ___ (Cal. Dist. Ct., Santa Cruz Cty., September 29, 2008). Pesticide drift from aerial spraying allegedly made it impossible for the plaintiff to sell large portions of its sage, rosemary and dill harvests in 2006 and 2007. The defendant, a pesticide application company, has reportedly indicated that it intends to appeal the verdict; a spokesperson was quoted as saying that the verdict “raises concerns about future use of organophosphates in California.” The company apparently claims that it followed all product labeling standards and county agricultural permits when it applied the pesticides and that decisions about the uses and risks of pesticides should rest in the hands of government regulators and not juries. The company also…

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