On June 7, 2019, the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) announced that it has adopted a final regulation eliminating the requirement for coffee to carry a Proposition 65 warning label. The regulation overturns a California State Court decision that found that coffee retailers failed to prove that the chemicals present in coffee, such as acrylamide, pose no significant risk of harm, requiring coffee to bear a warning.
Proposition 65, also known as the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986, requires businesses to provide “clear and reasonable” warnings before knowingly and intentionally exposing Californians to listed chemicals. These warnings are required to appear on a wide range of products.
As part of the reasoning for finalizing the rule, OEHHA found that based on the available scientific information, including a monograph prepared by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), listed chemicals produced by roasting coffee beans or brewing coffee do not pose a significant risk. Specifically, Sam Delson, a spokesman for OEHHA, said “Coffee is a complex mixture of hundreds of chemicals that includes both carcinogens and anti-carcinogens. The overall effect of coffee consumption is not associated with any significant cancer risk.”
The regulation is effective on October 1, 2019.
If you need help determining whether your products are covered by Proposition 65, need assistance designing a complainant warning, or require legal counsel to address a Proposition 65 60-day notice you’ve received, contact Seth Mailhot, Megan Caldwell, Amy Wachs, Emily Lyons or your Husch Blackwell attorney.
Written with the assistance of Sabrina Bey, a summer associate in the Husch Blackwell LLP Washington, DC office.