What is Prop 65?
Proposition 65 (“Prop 65”) is a California state law that is officially known as the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986. It was enacted to protect the state’s drinking water sources from being contaminated with chemicals known to cause cancer or reproductive toxicity. Prop 65 requires the state of California to publish a list of chemicals and elements known to cause cancer or reproductive toxicity in certain quantities (“Prop 65 List”), and requires businesses to provide warnings to Californians about the potential risk of exposure to these chemicals.
Prop 65’s warning provision is required for any product (including furniture, jewelry, dishes, food, etc.) that may expose an individual in California to certain amounts of a listed substance, even at levels that are far below any federal safety levels. The purpose of Prop 65 is simply to notify consumers of the potential risk of exposure, and a Prop 65 warning does not mean that the product is in violation of any product-safety standards or requirements. In addition, Prop 65 does not ban the sale of these products in California, nor does it restrict the use of these products by California consumers; it simply requires broad warnings on the product label.
No other state has a law similar to Prop 65.
What type of chemicals are on the Prop 65 list?
The Prop 65 list, which must be updated at least once per year, contains a wide variety of naturally occurring and synthetic chemicals and it has now grown to include approximately 900 chemicals and/or elements since it was first published in 1987. Because the list includes naturally occurring compounds, the warning requirement is triggered even if the element is a naturally occurring one in plants and herbs.
It is generally understood that lead and other heavy metal substances occur naturally in the environment and are found in trace amounts which are still above Prop 65’s low warning levels in various plants, herbs, and natural ingredients. For example, lead is naturally occurring in certain balsamic vinegars and some spices like turmeric, chili and tamarind. The list also includes byproducts such as Acrylamide, which is formed mostly on the surface of plant-based foods when they are browned during frying, roasting or grilling. Another example is arsenic, which is a naturally occurring chemical in the Earth’s crust that can be in different forms. Certain plant crops (such as rice) can absorb arsenic.
What other kinds of natural foods are affected?
As explained above, many foods contain trace levels of one or more of the chemicals listed by the State of California under Prop 65. Frequently, the exposure levels established by Prop 65 can be less than what occurs naturally in fruits, vegetables, fish, and other foods that are part of a healthy diet. Indeed, while acknowledging that fish are part of a healthy diet, Prop 65 forced many grocers to post Prop 65 warnings about listed chemicals in fish that grow wild in the ocean. Even spinach and carrots pulled straight from the ground can contain up to 6 times the level of lead at which a warning would be required under Prop 65.
Should I be worried about consuming products with a Prop 65 warning?
A Proposition 65 warning does not necessarily mean a product is unsafe or in violation of any product-safety standards. We are very proud of our products, and continually strive to find the highest quality ingredients for all our products. We are in full compliance with all current good manufacturing practices and regulations to ensure that our finished products meet strict standards for public health protection. As a further safeguard, our manufacturing facility is NSF certified. NSF is a global, independent organization dedicated to protecting and improving global health, and facilitates the development of public health standards. We underwent rigorous inspections and testing to secure this certification.
What warning statement is required?
For consumer products that contain one or more of the 900 chemicals on the Prop 65 list, the warning message must include the following language on the product label:
WARNING: This product contains a chemical known to the state of California to cause cancer and reproductive harm – www.p65warnings.ca.gov