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The Center for Environmental Health has reportedly sued several grocery chains in California alleging that independent testing has shown that the honey they were selling contains high levels of lead in violation of Proposition 65 (Prop. 65). Some of the honey purchased and tested allegedly contained lead levels more than double the legal limit. According to the center, honey suppliers sometimes use metal barrels with lead solder that can leach into the honey. It is seeking agreements that would bind the companies to use non-leaded containers for their honey and to test their supplies for lead content. See Center for Environmental Health News Release, May 2, 2012.

U.S. Representatives Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.) and Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) have proposed legislation (H.R. 3984) that would require the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to establish standards for arsenic and lead in fruit juices within two years. Titled the “Arsenic Prevention and Protection from Lead Exposure in Juice Act of 2012,” or the “APPLE Juice Act of 2012,” the proposal is designed to “protect children from harmful health effects of significant juice consumption,” the lawmakers said in a joint press release. Calling for lead and arsenic to be as strictly regulated in juice as they are in bottled water, the lawmakers said the bill came in response to a Consumer Reports investigation revealing “alarmingly high levels” of the toxins in apple and grape juice in New Jersey, New York and Connecticut. “We must ensure that the juices our children drink are safe, particularly when 70 percent of the apple juice…

According to news sources, the Center for Food Safety, which lost its challenge to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) decision to deregulate without restriction genetically engineered (GE) alfalfa, plans to appeal the matter to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. A federal court in California determined on January 5, 2012, that the law does not require the agency to “account for the effects of cross-pollination on other commercial crops” in assessing whether a new crop poses risks. U.S. District Judge Samuel Conti also reportedly said that USDA lacks the authority to require a buffer zone between GE crops and conventional or organic crops. Noting that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has approved the use of glyphosate on Roundup Ready® alfalfa, Conti further observed, “If plaintiffs’ allegations are true, then it is disturbing that EPA has yet to assess the effects of glyphosate on most of the species found near…

A California resident is seeking to certify a nationwide class in a lawsuit alleging that Walgreens Co. 100% Grape Juice and 100% Apple Juice contain “dangerously high levels” of lead and arsenic. Boysen v. Walgreen Co., No. 11-6262 (N.D. Cal., filed December 13, 2011). According to the complaint, the levels of lead and arsenic in these beverages are higher than FDA limits on these chemicals in bottled water, and the company fails to disclose information about the contaminants on product labels or in advertising. The plaintiff alleges that California includes lead and arsenic on the list of those substances known to the state to cause cancer or reproductive harm, but does not otherwise include a Proposition 65 claim. Alleging unfair business acts or practices and false or misleading advertising under California law, breach of implied warranty, and unjust enrichment, the plaintiff seeks restitution; actual, statutory and punitive damages; injunctive relief; attorney’s…

An environmental and public-health advocacy organization has filed a Proposition 65 lawsuit against numerous food and beverage producers in a California state court, alleging failure to warn the public that their baby and toddler foods and fruit juices contain lead, a chemical known to the state to cause reproductive toxicity or cancer. Envtl. Law Found. v. Beech-Nut Nutrition Corp., No. 11597384 (Cal. Super. Ct., Alameda Cty., filed September 28, 2011). Alleging one count of violating Proposition 65, the plaintiff seeks injunctive relief and civil penalties of $2,500 per day for each violation of the law, as well as attorney’s fees and costs. According to the complaint, the plaintiff notified the companies about the alleged violation in 2010 and provided the required notice to the state attorney general, who is not apparently prosecuting an action involving this claim.

A number of fruit juice manufacturers have filed a motion to dismiss the multidistrict litigation (MDL) consumer fraud lawsuits pending in a Massachusetts federal court. In re: Fruit Juice Prods. Mktg. & Sales Practices Litig., MDL No. 2231 (D. Mass, motion filed July 29, 2011). The lawsuits, involving plaintiffs from California, Colorado, Florida, and Massachusetts, allege violations of state consumer protection laws, breach of warranty and unjust enrichment in the sale and promotion of fruit juices purportedly containing lead. The motion asserts that the plaintiffs lack standing because they “have suffered no economic injury,” their pleadings do not allege facts showing a plausible injury, the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act preempts the claims, the suits were brought “under the laws of states in which Plaintiffs do not live and did not purchase any of Defendants’ products,” and the plaintiffs have failed to state any claim under the laws of their home…

“Forty years before it was removed from paint, pediatricians had enough evidence of lead’s ability to maim children’s brains—catastrophically and irreversibly—to warrant discussion in a medical textbook,” opines Sandra Steingraber in the March/April 2011 edition of Orion Magazine, where she posits that not only is the developing brain more vulnerable than the adult brain to social and nutritional environments, but “that neurotoxins can act in concert with each other” and “that the chemicals designed to act as neurobiological poisons—the organophosphate pesticides—truly do so.” In addition to summarizing studies on the effect of lead, arsenic, mercury, and other substances on developmental health, Steingraber highlights the latest research suggesting that organophosphate pesticides created to attack “the nervous systems of insect pests…have the same effect in humans,” interfering with “the recycling of the neurotransmitter acetycholine, one of the messaging signals that flow between neurons.” In particular, she cites studies purportedly showing that “organophosphate…

According to a press report, an amended putative class complaint has been filed in a Florida federal court against two companies that make and sell apple juice for children’s consumption, alleging that by failing to warn about the presence of lead in the juice the companies have violated state deceptive and unfair trade practices law. Poulis v. Gerber Prods. Co., No. 10-81475 (S.D. Fla., amended complaint filed January 11, 2011). The complaint was originally filed in state court soon after a California nonprofit organization notified the companies in June 2010 that their products contained lead in excess of levels established as safe under that state’s Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986 (Proposition 65). It was removed to federal court in November. The plaintiffs have not apparently alleged personal injury from the exposure, but claim they would not have purchased the companies’ products if they had known about…

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has reportedly “completed its most recent check of amounts of lead in some commercial juice and food products that contain fruit,” finding no cause for consumer concern. FDA tested apple juice, grape juice, peach slices, pears, mixed fruit, and fruit cocktail in response to a 2009 study by the Environmental Law Foundation, which sent notices “to numerous manufacturers of juice and packaged fruit products alleging the companies were not in compliance with the California Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986, also known as California Proposition 65, because the manufacturers failed to disclose that the products contained lead.” According to the most recent results, “Almost all the products FDA tested contained a small amount of lead, but in each case the level found would not pose an unacceptable risk to health.” The agency has further explained that lead in soil “can be deposited…

U.S. Senator Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) has asked the Food and Drug Administration, Environmental Protection Agency and Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) “to investigate and ban reusable shopping bags that contain higher than acceptable levels of lead.” According to a November 18, 2010, press release, Schumer issued letters to the agencies after third-party testing purportedly revealed “higher than acceptable levels of lead” in reusable grocery bags manufactured in China. The senator has expressed concern that “food products come into direct contact with these bags and long-term exposure can pose serious health and environmental risks.” Schumer’s announcement also cited “several reports” claiming that “a significant number of reusable shopping bags contained over 100 parts per million (PPM) in heavy metals. In some cases, bags contained as many as 5 times the allowable limits.” These reports evidently suggested that “the paint on lead-filled bags has the ability to peal and flake off, coming into direct…

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