California voters, in 1986, passed the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act, a.k.a. Proposition 65. This law requires the State of California to publish two lists of chemicals: One of chemicals that have been linked to a risk of cancer in animals or humans, and another list that shows chemicals that have been linked to a risk of birth defects or other reproductive harm in animals or humans. This applies even if the basis of risk is evident only in animal testing. Chemicals do not need to pose a risk in human testing to fall under the language of Prop 65.
Companies who do business in California are required to notify consumers in California about the presence of any Prop 65-listed chemical if the chemical is contained in any product the company is making available for sale in California. Proposition 65 doesn’t prohibit the sale of the products that contain listed chemicals, but it does require that the products to have clear and reasonable warnings when applicable.
The warning itself should read similar to “This product contains chemicals known to the State of California to cause cancer or reproductive toxicity.”
Types of Chemicals and Products on the Prop 65 List
The types of products that typically carry a Prop 65 warning include insecticides, pesticides, household products and construction materials. There are over 800 chemicals on the list currently.
Proposition 65 applies to all products sold in California, including food. Since 2013, dietary supplements are categorized in California as foods for purposes of Proposition 65.
Why is Physician’s Choice Affected by Proposition 65?
While Prop 65 only applies to California, any company who sells consumer goods in California are subject to meeting the legal requirements of the proposition. Since Proposition 65 applies to dietary supplements that are sold in California, consumers will be notified if a supplement contains a Prop 65-listed chemical, if that chemical is present in an amount above the set threshold, and if the chemical isn’t naturally occurring in an ingredient the supplement.
As noted above, previous litigation against several dietary supplement manufacturers resulted in a decision by a California trial court in February 2013 to include dietary supplements in the list of products that are required to adhere to Proposition 65 warning language. This does not mean our supplements aren’t made from natural ingredients; for the purposes of litigation, the language behind what is considered “naturally occurring” can be vague. As a result we err on the side of abundant caution to be in compliance with the law.
Are Products with a Proposition 65 Warning Notice Unsafe?
A Proposition 65 warning doesn’t mean a product is unsafe. The notice simply attempts to make consumers aware of the presence of a chemical on the Prop 65 list so that they can make more informed decisions about purchasing a product.
Additionally, the amount of a chemical that would trigger a Prop 65 warning is much lower than what would be concerning by other agencies like the FDA, the EAP, WHO and many European health organizations.
The goal of Proposition 65 was to make California residents more aware of potentially harmful chemicals in the products they buy. But because these warnings are so ubiquitous, experts argue that consumers have become complacent and the warnings no longer have an impact. Regardless, we comply with the regulations set forth in the language of the law, so that is why you may notice a Proposition 65 warning as applicable when purchasing a product from Physician’s Choice.
How Can I Learn More about Proposition 65?