Tag Archives Prop. 65

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has found that the district court did not abuse its discretion in granting a preliminary injunction blocking a requirement to warn California consumers about the presence of acrylamide in food and beverage products. Cal. Chamber of Com. v. Council for Education and Research on Toxics, No. 19-2019 (9th Cir., entered March 17, 2022). Filed by the California Chamber of Commerce, the suit alleges that requiring the warning for products containing chemicals listed under the state's Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986 (Prop. 65) on products with acrylamide would violate the organization's members' "First Amendment rights to not be compelled to place false and misleading acrylamide warnings on their food products." The district court held that the state did not show the Prop. 65 acrylamide warning was "purely factual and uncontroversial." "[D]ozens of epidemiological studies have failed to tie human cancer to…

The Ecological Alliance has reportedly filed a lawsuit in California state court alleging The Kroger Co. failed to warn consumers about the presence of lead in several of its foods. Ecological Alliance LLC v. Kroger Co. (Cal. Super. Ct., Los Angeles Cty., no. and filing date unavailable). The complaint alleges that Kroger sells fifteen products that contain lead, including graham crackers, salad kits, bagels and spaghetti. The plaintiff advocacy organization purports to have tested the products and found levels of lead up to 140 times the limit set by California's Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986 (Prop. 65). Ecological Alliance, which seeks injunctions preventing Kroger from selling lead-contaminated products without a Prop. 65 warning, alleges that it sent violation letters to Kroger and the California attorney general in the summer and fall of 2021, but the government agencies failed to take action against the company.

Regulations governing the use of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) continue to evolve. In California, the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) announced the addition of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), one type of PFAS, to the list of chemicals established under the state's Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986 (Prop. 65). The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a constituent update about the results of tests for PFAS in food. The study purportedly found that 89 of 92 food samples "had no detectable levels of PFAS"; the three that contained the substance were seafood—tilapia, cod and shrimp. "To date, there have been 10 samples with detectable PFAS out of 532 [Total Diet Study (TDS)] samples the FDA has tested since 2019," the update notes. "Based on the best available current science, the FDA has no scientific evidence that the levels of PFAS found in the TDS…

A California federal court has ruled that the state "has not shown that the cancer warnings it requires are purely factual and uncontroversial" or "that Proposition 65 imposes no undue burden on those who would provide a more carefully worded warning." Cal. Chamber of Com. v. Becerra, No. 19-2019 (E.D. Cal., entered March 29, 2021). The California Chamber of Commerce filed a lawsuit seeking to enjoin new lawsuits from enforcing the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act (Prop. 65) against foods that contain acrylamide. The court considered evidence on the toxicity of acrylamide, finding that "some evidence does support such an inference" that eating food with acrylamide will increase a person's risk of cancer, but "dozens of epidemiological studies have failed to tie human cancer to a diet of food containing acrylamide. Nor have public health authorities advised people to eliminate acrylamide from their diets. They have at most…

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra filed a lawsuit against five importers, wholesalers and distributors of seafood, alleging they sell fish with levels of cadmium and lead high enough to require warnings governed by the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act (Prop. 65). California v. Pacific Am. Fish Co. Inc. (Cal. Super. Ct., filed December 28, 2020). The companies—Pacific American Fish Company, Rhee Bros., Seaquest Seafood Corporation, Jayone Foods and Clearwater Seafoods—sell products such as clams, mussels, octopus, oysters, squids and snails. “When California's consumers, restaurants, and supermarkets purchase seafood, they shouldn’t have to worry about whether the products they’re buying contain toxic chemicals,” Becerra said in a press release. “The seafood industry has a responsibility to ensure the safety of its products – and to warn consumers of any risks. I hope this lawsuit serves as a warning to any company that might skirt its responsibilities under Proposition 65. The California…

The Environmental Research Center has filed a lawsuit alleging that Manitoba Harvest USA LLC Corp.’s food products contain lead and cadmium levels exceeding the amounts permitted by California’s Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act (Prop. 65). Envtl. Research Ctr. Inc. v. Manitoba Harvest USA LLC Corp., No. RG19038961 (Cal. Super. Ct., Alameda Cty., filed October 15, 2019). The complaint asserts that Manitoba Harvest “has knowingly and intentionally exposed numerous persons to lead and/or cadmium without providing any type of Proposition 65 warning” to “the public, who undoubtedly believe they have been ingesting totally healthy and pure products pursuant to the company’s statements.” The advocacy group seeks civil penalties, injunctive relief and declaratory judgment.

The California Chamber of Commerce (CalChamber) has filed a lawsuit aiming to prevent the state from “enforcing a requirement to provide a false, misleading, and highly controversial cancer warning for food and beverage [] products that contain the chemical acrylamide.” Cal. Chamber of Commerce v. Becerra, No. 19-0962 (E.D. Cal., filed October 7, 2019). CalChamber asserts that acrylamide “is not intentionally added to foods” but rather “is formed naturally in many types of foods when cooked at high temperatures or otherwise processed with heat.” The complaint argues that although “certain governmental and scientific entities” have identified acrylamide as a carcinogen, “[s]cientific studies in humans, however, have found no reliable evidence that exposure to acrylamide in food products is associated with an increased risk of developing any type of cancer. In fact, epidemiologic evidence suggests that dietary acrylamide—i.e., acrylamide that forms naturally in normal cooking of many food products—does not cause…

California's Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) has released the agenda for its September 19-20, 2019, symposium on synthetic food dyes. OEHHA is "conducting a risk assessment of the potential impacts of synthetic food dyes," focusing on dyes batch-certified by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The symposium, which can be attended in person or via webinar, will feature discussions of the toxicological studies used by FDA to evaluate synthetic food dyes as well as exposures to dyes in American adults' and children's diets.

A consumer has filed a putative class action alleging that Welch Foods Inc.'s grape juices contain excessive levels of lead and arsenic, citing a January 2019 article appearing in Consumer Reports. Labajo v. Welch Foods Inc., No. 19-1306 (C.D. Cal., filed July 16, 2019). The complaint also cites California's Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act (Prop. 65), noting, "This Complaint does not allege a violation of Proposition 65. Proposition 65 is relevant, however, to the extent it provides information concerning the material omissions in violation of California's Consumer Protection laws, and guidance as to a reasonable consumer's purchasing decisions." The plaintiff seeks class certification, injunctions preventing fraudulent business practices and requiring disclosure of lead and arsenic content, restitution, damages and attorney's fees for alleged violations of California consumer-protection statutes.

California's Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) has confirmed that coffee will not be required to carry warnings about risks of cancer or reproductive harm mandated by the state's Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act (Prop. 65). In a June 3, 2019, tweet, the agency stated that its "coffee regulation has been approved," finding that the chemicals "created by and inherent in roasting coffee beans or brewing coffee, do not pose a significant cancer risk." The agency indicates that the regulation will take effect October 1, 2019.

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