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California Proposing New Labeling Requirement for Foods, Cosmetics, Glues and Paper Containing the Chemical Acrylamide

March 5, 2010 | Posted by Maureen Gorsen | Topic(s): California Prop 65

The California Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (Cal/EPA or OEHHA) has found that acrylamide, a chemical that is naturally formed in some foods when cooked at high temperatures (e.g., potatoes, asparagus), found in certain consumer products (e.g., cosmetics, glues and paper) and used in waste water treatment for drinking water meet the criteria for Proposition 65 listing as a reproductive toxicant. Acrylamide was previously listed as a carcinogen in 1990.

Proposition 65 requires the state to publish a list of chemicals known to cause cancer or birth defects or other reproductive harm. This list, which must be updated at least once a year, has grown to include approximately 775 chemicals since it was first published in 1987.

Once a chemical is listed under Prop 65, businesses selling products containing the chemical must provide notices to the public, which can include new labels on the product and posting signs where the product is sold to inform consumers of the potential carcinogenic or reproductive harm. Proposition 65 also prohibits companies that do business within California from knowingly discharging listed chemicals into sources of drinking water. Once a chemical is listed, businesses have 20 months to comply with the discharge prohibition, and 12 months to comply with the warning requirements.

Comments on whether this listing is warranted or appropriate can be sent to Cal/EPA. The deadline for comments on whether acrylamide meets the criteria for listing via the authoritative body’s mechanism is 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday, April 27, 2010. Comments can be submitted electronically by emailing Cynthia Oshita at OEHHA at . For more info on this issue, see the following link: http://www.oehha.org/prop65/CRNR_notices/admin_listing/intent_to_list/noil022610.html.

If you have any questions, call Maureen Gorsen, former general counsel of Cal/EPA in Sacramento, at 916-498-3305 or Kurt Weissmuller, a leading Prop 65 defense litigator, at 213-576- 1003.