What is Prop 65?

California Proposition 65

California law contains what is known as the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act also referred to as Proposition 65 (Prop 65). Prop 65 requires the State of California to publish and maintain a list of chemicals known to the State of California to cause cancer, birth defects or other reproductive harm. The list has continually expanded since the inception of Prop 65 and it currently contains over 900 substances. The most recent list and other Prop 65 information are available on California's web site: http://www.oehha.ca.gov/prop65.html.

Prop 65 requires products sold in California to bear warnings about potential exposure to any of the substances listed by the state of California. Prop 65's warning provision is required for any product (food or non-food) that exposes an individual in California to any detectable amount of a listed substance "known to the state" to cause cancer and/or reproductive harm. It is important to note Prop 65 does not ban any products; it simply requires warnings. Legal proceedings to enforce Prop 65 against manufacturers may be instituted by the State of California, private attorneys, or private citizens.

What kinds of food are affected?

Practically all foods contain certain levels of one or more of the substances recognized by the State of California. In many cases, the exposure levels established by Prop 65 are less than what occurs naturally in fruits, vegetables, grains, and even drinking water. The Proposition 65 exposure standards are so strict that certain natural foods such as yams, turnips, apples, tomatoes, artichokes, carrots, cucumbers, green beans, lettuce, spinach, potatoes, and corn provide exposures in excess of Prop 65 limits. (However, food producers have not been required to provide Prop 65 notices.) For example, natural carrots contain approximately 12.80 micrograms of arsenic in a one cup serving which is an exposure that exceeds Prop 65 levels. Also, green beans contain 28.75 micrograms of lead in a one cup serving, which is an exposure of approximately 50 times the allowed Prop 65 levels.

What about Sunwarrior Rice Protein and Ormus Supergreens?

Sunwarrior's research indicates that any presence of chemicals listed by the State of California in Sunwarrior Rice Protein and Ormus Supergreens occur as a result of the natural state of the ingredients in the products. Prop 65 states that no warning is required when the listed substance occurs naturally in a food product, and not as the result of "known human activity." However, the State of California has never issued clear guidelines on how this exception applies to the health supplement industry. It is generally understood that lead and other substances occur naturally in the environment and are found in trace amounts in naturally occurring ingredients, including those ingredients used to make dietary supplements. However, to claim this naturally occurring exception to Prop 65 (i.e.: to not post the labels on products) usually lands the claimant in an expensive, time consuming, and business destroying legal proceeding.

Does this apply to all naturally occuring substances?
Should I be worried about eating Sunwarrior or other natural products?

Proteins, plants, and minerals all are well-known to contain substances that exceed those allowed exposures on the Prop 65 list. Naturally grown plants absorb metals and other trace chemicals from the soil in which they are grown. For example, Prop 65 sets a safe harbor limit of 0.5 mcg of lead per serving, but this limit is far below the amount of lead naturally found in many fruits and vegetables grown on clean, non-contaminated soils. In 2009 the State of California conducted its own food crop soil-lead-uptake analysis (Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment 129:212-220), and California's experts found that the most commonly consumed vegetables (from 70 different locations), averaged nearly four times the Prop 65 lead limit per serving. When compared with the Prop 65 standards, each serving of potatoes, lettuce, wheat, carrots and many other vegetables would require a lead warning.

Remember that Prop 65 regulates exposures, not concentrations and not actual harm or injury. Natural proteins, for example, naturally have high levels of lead. Any process to remove the lead would destroy the protein. All Sunwarrior products fall within FDA suggested guidelines for any/all of the chemicals listed by Prop 65 and can be safely consumed.

Why does Sunwarrior put warnings on some of their labels?

Sunwarrior prefers to comply with the Prop 65 warning label requirements, as a business decision, in order to avoid expensive, time-consuming, and business destroying litigation over Prop 65 compliance. Sunwarrior Rice Protein and Ormus Supergreens are natural and Sunwarrior believes that any occurrences of chemicals listed by Prop 65 in its products should be exempted under the "naturally occurring allowance" exception. However, until this exception is more clearly delineated by the Courts and the State of California, Sunwarrior will comply with the notice requirements.

Where can I learn more about Prop 65?

If you would like to read more about Proposition 65, please see the links below:

For an interesting article about a whole-grain wheat bread producer being required to provide Prop 65 warnings while French-fry producers are not required, read this: http://www.acsh.org/healthissues/newsID.144/healthissue_detail.asp

For an interesting article about Prop 65's ineffective approach to improve public health and tackle the major areas of known contamination, read this: http://www.acsh.org/publications/pubid.146/pub_detail.asp

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