California Proposition 65 (Prop 65)
Vann's Spices (Pro Seasoning co-packer) recently learned that California Proposition 65 (Prop 65) has legal implications for us and our customers. Prop 65 is a unique California law requiring businesses to warn consumers against products that may contain quantifiable amounts of over eight-hundred possible chemicals, including lead. Unfortunately, while the law makes a distinction between chemicals that are present in food naturally and those that are added artificially or through adulteration, the cost to prove such a case reaches well beyond our capability.
Prop 65 limits for lead are nearly 1,000 times lower than those set forth by the EPA and due to the presence of lead in soil, plants of all types naturally contain this and other metals in trace amounts through no act of adulteration. Also known as ‘The Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986’ passed by the people of California, the intent of Prop 65 was to increase accountability by preventing people and companies from dumping toxic substances into California waters. While originally well intended, it was vaguely written and ill-conceived, now allowing a host of opportunistic lawyers to take advantage of unsuspecting retailers and manufacturers by filing a flurry of 60-Day notices alleging lead content in spice products and seeking monetary gain in the form of a very costly settlement.
While we believe that our products conform to Proposition 65, we are unable to bear the financial burden to fight this legal battle in court, especially considering the fact that more than one lawyer can send separate notices to one company for the same product on the same shelf. This form of litigation puts all businesses in a defensive position, forcing them to settle out of fear of financial ruin. Due to the seemingly endless risk and liability, Retailers, Manufacturers, Restaurants and others are posting warnings to excess which are now mostly ignored by the very people they are intended to protect. There is no way for anyone to know exactly what is safe or not safe.
Like many other companies, we are now regrettably forced to place warnings on all spice products shipped to California or shipped to customers who could sell into California. The label reads: WARNING: This product contains chemicals known to the state of California to cause cancer and birth defects or other reproductive harm. For more information on Proposition 65 please refer to Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment
Through regular testing of our products, we assure you, however, that all of our products are safe and comply with federal and industry standards for safety.