Product Labeling News
Could Federal Legislation Save Proposition 65?
This law article by Kelley Drye & Warren LLP explains how the Accurate Labels Act could help improve Prop 65 by requiring warning labels to be based on risk and shifting the burden of proof to the state or private plaintiff “seeking to enforce a warning requirement in court.”
New York Times - Should coffee come with a cancer warnings? California says no
This article reports on the move by the State of California to prevent regulators from requiring cancer warning labels on cups of coffee. As California's Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessments deputy director for external and legislative affairs points out, “There’s a danger to overwarning — it’s important to warn about real health risks.”
LA Times - Coffee isn't going to kill us. California needs a smarter system to let us know what's dangerous
The LA Times editorial board takes another shot at California's infamous Proposition 65. The board points out that, while the state has decided not to require warning labels on coffee, Prop. 65 is in desperate need of reform because "its warnings may actually make it harder for Californians to assess the real dangers they encounter."
Washington Times - How inaccurate labels can mislead consumers and drive up prices
Richard Berman, president of Berman and Co., provides a broad look at labeling issues throughout the country and explains the need for a federal solution like the Accurate Labels Act as introduced by Sen. Jerry Moran (R-KS) and Reps. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) and Kurt Schrader (D-OR).
Chemical Watch - Industry-backed labelling bill introduced in US Congress
The bipartisan, bicameral Accurate Labels Act was introduced by Sen. Jerry Moran (R-KS) and Reps. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) and Kurt Schrader (D-OR). The bill which seeks to amend the Fair Packaging and Labeling Act to establish "science-based criteria" for state labelling requirements; ensure that product information is "risk-based;” clarify that trace amounts of substances do not need to be listed as ingredients; and allow state-mandated product information to be provided online and through smartphone-enabled 'smart labels', including for relevant ingredients and warnings.
Times Record News - California law caused nearly $8 million in losses for Texas businesses
A report by the Center for Accountability in Science details the cost of California’s Proposition 65 lawsuits to businesses in states throughout the country. The report, based on information from the California Attorney General, shows that Texas businesses suffered nearly $8 million in losses from Proposition 65 lawsuits from 2010-2017.
Center for Accountability in Science - Report details cost of Prop. 65 lawsuits to US businesses
Instead of protecting public health, California’s Proposition 65 has evolved into a tool for trial lawyers to earn millions collecting settlements against small businesses whose products don’t put consumers in harm’s way – even if the businesses are located outside California. This report provides state-by-state overview of the negative financial toll Prop. 65 exacts on businesses nationwide.
WIBW Radio - Chuck Conner discusses the Coalition for Accurate Product Labels
Listen to Chuck Conner’s, President and CEO of the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, interview on the Kansas Ag Issues program. NCFC is one of more than 60 organizations that created the Coalition for Accurate Product Labels, which advocates for meaningful, science-based information about the products consumers buy and use.
Bloomberg - New Bills Would Mandate Science-Based Consumer Warning Labels
Scientific, risk-based criteria would have to be met before federal, state, or local agencies could require consumer product manufacturers to slap warnings on their goods, according to new legislation backed by a diverse coalition of industry groups.
Farm Bureau - Bills Will Ensure Accurate Product Labeling
The American Farm Bureau Federation, which is a member of the Coalition for Accurate Product Labels, announced its support for the Accurate Labels Act. In a statement, the Farm Bureau said the “labeling legislation will ensure that consumers continue to benefit from nutritional and allergy information on packaging, while guaranteeing that any additional product information required by states or cities is clear, accurate, meaningful and science-based.”
The National Council of Farmer Cooperatives – Farmer Co-ops applaud introduction of the Accurate Labels Act
NCFC President and CEO Chuck Conner announced the association’s support for the Accurate Labels Act by saying, “Consumers deserve clear, accurate and meaningful labels on the food and other products they buy. In too many cases today, state laws like California’s Proposition 65 make this impossible; under that law, a profusion of labels based on dubious science means that consumers are confused and likely to treat the labels as visual white noise. The ALA will reestablish some common sense by making states and localities ‘show their work’ when setting out requirements for mandatory warning labels.”
American Chemistry Council - ACC Announces Support for Bipartisan Accurate Labels Act
ACC’s President and CEO Cal Dooley announced the association’s support for the Accurate Labels Act by saying, “Consumers have a right to accurate, common sense labels that reflect the best available science. However, a growing number of states and localities are requiring labels that imply risks when none exist. The ALA offers a bipartisan solution to this labeling chaos and misinformation that is creating consumer confusion, driving up costs and creating unreasonable regulatory burdens for farmers, manufacturers and small businesses.”
SNAC International - SNAC Applauds Introduction of Accurate Labels Act
SNAC’s President and CEO Elizabeth Avery announced the association’s support for the Accurate Labels Act by saying, “SNAC International members are committed to providing consumers with the complete information about the products they love. Because no SNAC member, big or small, does business in just one state, it is vital for new labeling requirements to follow a strong scientific standard. A state patchwork of labeling laws will only confuse consumers and create unnecessary costs for manufacturers.”
Feed Stuffs - Labeling Law Would Eliminate Non-Credible Food Labels
In another step of trying to ensure consumers have clear labels, legislation on both the House and Senate side looks to help ensure that food labels are consistent, clear and credible. More than 60 organizations, representing farmers, manufacturers, small businesses and retailers announced the creation of the Coalition for Accurate Product Labels, which advocates for meaningful, science-based information about the products consumers buy and use.
The New York Times – California, Coffee and Cancer: One of These Doesn’t Belong
Indiana University School of Medicine Professor Aaron E. Carroll writes in the New York Times TheUpshot blog about the dangers of slapping cancer warning labels on products that don’t pose real risks to consumers. He notes that “If nearly inconsequential dangers get the same warning as significant dangers, people might start ignoring preventive efforts entirely.”
Business Insider – California puts cancer warnings on more than 1,000 chemicals, foods, and places
Business Insider provides a rundown of some of the most ridiculous things that have cancer warnings in California thanks to Prop. 65. The list includes parking garages, coffee, cell phones, hotels, dentists’ offices, and amusement parks.
San Diego Union-Tribune – Cancer-causing coffee? Proposition 65 warnings becoming too common
The San Diego Union-Tribune editorial board calls for drastic reforms to California’s Prop. 65 so that people know when they may encounter real-world risk, not just theoretical threats. The board reminds readers that opponents of the Prop. 65 ballot initiative warned back in 1986 that it would require “warnings on millions of ordinary and safe items. We won’t know what products are really dangerous anymore. The warnings we really need will get lost in lots of warnings we don’t need.”
U.S. News & World Report – Could California’s Coffee Warning Backfire?
While a California judge recently ruled in favor of a trial attorney seeking to force coffee companies to slap cancer warning labels on every cup of coffee sold in California, health behavior experts say it could be counterproductive.
Bloomberg – A Bad Nudge from California
Harvard Professor and Former Obama White House administrator for the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs Cass Sunstein examines the recent court ruling to require cancer warning labels on coffee sold in the State of California. As he points out, the Prop. 65 lifetime risk level that triggered the warning under the law amounts to about the same mortality risk of a person being killed by a dog. Sunstein concludes that cancer warnings for coffee are just silly.
The Washington Times – Hysteria State
The Washington Times editorial board highlights the cottage industry that some trial lawyers have created by suing companies under California’s infamous Proposition 65. Last year alone, those lawyers took home 75 percent of the $25.6 million in settlement money from Prop. 65 lawsuits.
The Washington Post – California ordered to add cancer warning to coffee, but the science doesn’t hold up
As this article points out, links between cancer and acrylamide, an active ingredient in coffee when roasted, are weak, but that has not stopped the state of California from requiring cancer warning labels on each cup of coffee sold in the state.
The Wall Street Journal – Attack of the Killer Cappuccino
This Wall Street Journal editorial highlights the absurdity of California’s decision to require cancer warning labels on every cup of coffee sold in the state. The decision relies on bad science from an International Agency for Research on Cancer determination that acrylamide, an active ingredient in coffee when it is roasted, may cause cancer. That determination disregarded findings by other organizations like the American Cancer Society and the EPA that there is no definitive proof acrylamide causes cancer in humans and that coffee may help decrease the likelihood of certain types of cancer.
The Chicago Sun Times – Warning: Too many warnings dilute the value of being warned
While Prop 65 has been good business for some trail lawyers and the sign-making industry, this columnist writes about how the proliferation of warnings in California dilute their value. Steinberg says that slapping cancer warning labels on coffee cups will only train the public to ignore future labels when real risks may exist.
The LA Times – A toxic warning for coffee? What's next—signs on doors warning of the cancer risk from sunlight?
Recent letters to the editor in the Los Angeles Times point out how the state’s Proposition 65, which was originally meant to help California citizens make informed decisions about their health, has been twisted to serve the financial interests of trial lawyers and now requires cancer warnings everywhere Californians look.
The Washington Times - A society burdened by needless warnings
Richard Berman writes in this op-ed that government mandated warning labels that aren’t based in sound science ultimately amount to “compelled lying.” Two recent rulings from courts in California support that idea by determining that such warnings likely violate the 1st Amendment when they are not factually accurate.
The National Law - Prop 65 Preliminary Injunction and “Fake News”
In a recent ruling to stop the Proposition 65 warning requirement on Roundup products, a federal judge noted that “a reasonable consumer would not understand that a substance is ‘known to cause cancer’ where only one health organization (IARC) had found that the substance in question causes cancer and virtually all other government agencies and health organizations that have reviewed studies on the chemical had found there was no evidence that it caused cancer. Under these facts, the message that glyphosate is known to cause cancer is misleading at best.”
Fox News - This flawed UN health agency threatens America's food supply
As this opinion piece from Jeffrey Stier notes, the International Agency for Research on Cancer’s Monographs Program has never studied a chemical it did not dislike (except for the one chemical out of the 900 evaluations it has done that it found to not be carcinogenic to humans). One of the major problems with IARC’s assessments is that they are hazard based, which means they only try to determine if something could potentially cause cancer, not if they are likely to pose a risk.
Forbes - What We Know About Coffee and Cancer -- California and IARC, Take Note
An overwhelming amount of scientific research has shown that coffee drinking does not appear to increase the risk of any cancer, and for certain cancers, it may be associated with decreased risk. However, that hasn’t stopped the International Agency for Research on Cancer’s Monographs Program and California’s from listing it as a “possible carcinogen.” That questionable determination has sparked a great deal of controversy as California may soon require cancer warnings on every cup of coffee sold in the state.
Los Angeles Times - Glyphosate cancer warning in California halted
After a group of agriculture industry organizations sued California to prevent the requirement for cancer warning labels on the weed killer Roundup, a judge has halted the state’s Proposition 65 action saying that the warning would be “misleading at best.” Judge Shubb noted that the classification by the International Agency for Research on Cancer’s (IARC) Monographs Program that glyphosate—an active ingredient in Roundup—is a probable human carcinogen. The Proposition 65 warning was prompted by IARC’s determination even though it contradicts scientific research from EPA, the World Health Organization, and other organizations that determined there is insufficient evidence that glyphosate causes cancer.
Reuters - U.S. judge halts California plan to require glyphosate warnings
A federal judge in California recently stopped the state from requiring Prop. 65 cancer warning labels on Roundup products, which contain the active ingredient glyphosate, because the labels would likely violate the First Amendment. The judge wrote: “The required warning for glyphosate does not appear to be factually accurate and uncontroversial because it conveys the message that glyphosate's carcinogenicity is an undisputed fact, when almost all other regulators have concluded that there is insufficient evidence that it causes cancer.”
LA Times Editorial – Warning: Too many warning signs are bad for your health
The LA Times editorial board agrees warning labels that are not backed by science are counterproductive and do more harm than good. The editorial board reversed course from their previous support of Proposition 65—the state’s infamous labeling law—and called for it to be fixed or replaced.
The Wall Street Journal – In California, Where Cancer Warnings Abound, Coffee Is Next in Line
If Prop. 65 trial lawyers—often referred to as “bounty hunters”—win an ongoing lawsuit against coffee sellers like Starbucks every cup of coffee sold in the state of California could come with a cancer warning label. This absurd possibility could soon become reality, and it has Californians like doctoral student Steve Haring concerned. He is quoted in this article as saying, “They should just put the label inside my door so I see it when I leave the apartment in the morning. It’s literally everywhere.”
American Chemistry Matters – Federal court says soda warning labels are unconstitutional
A federal appeals court unanimously ruled in September 2017 to block a San Francisco soda warning label ordinance, which it said violates the First Amendment. The court wrote that it is unconstitutional for “the state to require corporations to provide one-sided or misleading messages” and the message “is deceptive in light of the current state of research.”
New York Daily News Editorial – Warning: Can stain clothes: On California's run-amok health warnings
The New York Daily News editorial board explains just how out of hand Prop. 65 has gotten. The board writes that “when everything is a risk, nothing’s a risk.” They also want to know who will write the warnings to let Californians know about the psychological damage done by a state government that can’t stop labeling things.
CNN – Coffee may come with a cancer warning in California
Highlighted in this CNN story about the ongoing legal fight between the coffee industry and trial lawyers is an important finding from scientific research: “Even the studies showing cancer links between acrylamide in rats and mice used doses ‘1,000 to 100,000 times higher than the usual amounts, on a weight basis, that humans are exposed to through dietary sources,’ the research review said.”
National Law Review – A federal court gets opportunity to weigh in on Prop. 65 with a little help from some friends
11 State Attorneys General (representing Missouri, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Wisconsin) are weighing in on a lawsuit involving a chemical called glyphosate and making the case that California’s Prop. 65 law “undermines consumer-protection laws passed by other States because it requires nonresident businesses to label products with false, misleading information, contrary to the consumer-protection policies of other States. The requirement encroaches on the equal sovereignty of other States and threatens to inflate food prices for all Americans, especially the neediest, without any plausible justification.”
CalChamber – Action Needed in Prop. 65 Case to Avert Disruption in Multiple Sectors
The California Chamber of Commerce along with the Civil Justice Association of California asked the Fifth District Court of Appeal to expedite its decision and reverse the erroneous listing of glyphosate—an active ingredient in Roundup® weed and grass herbicide products—on the Proposition 65 list of cancer-causing substances. The maker of Roundup®, Monsanto Company, has sued the state arguing that the method used to list glyphosate as a carcinogen is unconstitutional and scientifically unsubstantiated.