Officials are looking to establish acceptable limits for nut products as it relates to Proposition 65 constraints. Prop 65 addresses warnings for certain chemicals that have been linked to cancer. President and CEO of the Western Agricultural Processors Association, Roger Isom said that there has been increased action against nut products in relation to Prop 65 requirements.
“This is something that we’ve been fearing for a while. A lot of plaintiff’s attorneys that go around looking to sue and make an easy buck have latched onto acrylamide. Acrylamide is the chemical that’s created when you roast or fry things,” Isom noted. “You might recall this started with french fries a few years ago, then it moved onto coffee where there were lawsuits against Starbucks and others and now it’s moved onto roasted nuts, and in particular almonds.”
The Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) has released a proposed regulation that would provide clarity for some of the warning requirements of Prop 65. For items such as roasted almonds, roasted almond butter, and chocolate-covered almonds, OEHHA is proposing a maximum average concentration level of 225 parts per billion. OEHHA arrived at the proposed level based on previous court settlements. “We’re certainly supportive of a level, whether this is the one or not, we’re still evaluating that. But we’ve got to try to eliminate these lawsuits,” Isom noted.
Establishing a particular threshold for when a warning label is required will substantially help limit the potential for lawsuits. Isom explained that several industry members have already been sued in relation to Prop 65 and the costs for fighting the lawsuits can be exorbitant. “It’s basically extortion the way that these attorneys work. Unfortunately, until they fix the Prop 65 law this is what we’re going to be faced with,” Isom noted.
OEHHA will be accepting public comments on the proposed action on Prop 65 rules through Wednesday, October 21.