Tag Archives California

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 resident has filed suit against ConAgra Foods, Inc., alleging that it falsely advertises and labels its Healthy Choice® pasta sauce products as “100% Natural,” “Natural” or “All Natural” despite using high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) to make them. Lockwood v. ConAgra Foods, Inc., No. 08-4151 (N.D. Cal., filed September 2, 2008). Claiming that “[t]he complicated process used to create HFCS does not occur in nature” and that “it is misleading to consumers to label products that contain HFCS as ‘Natural,’” the plaintiff seeks to certify a class of “All persons in California who purchased any of Defendant’s pasta sauce products containing High Fructose Corn Syrup, yet marketed, advertised or labeled as being ‘All Natural’, ‘Natural’ or ‘100% Natural’ during the ‘Class Period.’” According to the plaintiff, a number of common questions predominate over individual issues, including whether defendant misrepresented its ingredients, mislabeled its products or engaged in unfair and…

After a two-month trial, San Francisco Superior Court Judge Robert Dondero late last week ruled that California cannot require the manufacturers of Chicken of the Sea, StarKist and Bumble Bee tuna to warn consumers that their products contain mercury and mercury compounds. California Attorney General Bill Lockyer filed the lawsuit in June 2004 under the state antitoxics law Proposition 65, which requires businesses to warn the public about exposure to chemicals “known to the state to cause cancer or reproductive toxicity.” The law does not apply to chemicals that occur naturally in food. Press reports indicate the court ruled that (i) Prop. 65 is preempted by a March 2004 Food and Drug Administration joint consumer advisory on methylmercury in fish and shellfish; (ii) low levels of mercury contained in tuna products do not merit warnings; and (iii) tuna is exempt from Prop. 65 requirements because mercury in fish is naturally occurring.…

Since May 2002 California plaintiffs have reportedly brought enforcement actions against a number of food manufacturers and fast food restaurants claiming that because carcinogens or reproductive toxicants are contained in their products, they are required to provide public warnings under the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act. This law, also known as Proposition 65 (Prop.65), was approved by state voters in November 1986. It requires the governor to publish a list of chemicals known to the state to cause cancer, birth defects or other reproductive harms. Companies selling products in California must provide warnings if such substances are contained in their products. Private citizens are empowered under the Act to sue alleged violators to enjoin future violations and obtain civil penalties for past violations. Plaintiffs in American Environmental Safety Institute v. Mars, Inc., No. BC273433 (Cal. Super. Ct., Los Angeles Cty., filed May 8, 2002), allege that chocolate contains the…

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