Prop 65: What you need to know

Although it became law more than 30 years ago, there are still a lot of questions about California’s Proposition 65 (Prop 65), formerly called the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986.

Passed by a nearly 2-to-1 voter majority, Prop 65 requires California to publish and regularly update a list of more than 850 chemicals either known to cause cancer or reproductive toxicity. Businesses with 10 or more employees – including manufacturers – are required to provide warnings when they “knowingly or intentionally” cause people to be exposed to any chemicals on the list.

The law was passed to help Californians make informed decisions about their exposure to the chemicals. It does not ban or restrict the sale of any chemicals on the list. Prop 65 is administered by California’s Office of Environmental Hazard Assessment (OEHHA).

Recently, OEHHA changed the language of the required Prop 65 warning labels. These changes took effect on August 30, 2018. At the same time, OEHHA clarified that manufacturers have the primary responsibility for providing Prop 65 warnings, although fines can be levied all along the supply chain, from manufacturers to distributors to commercial kitchens.

Prop 65 requirements can be significant, and the fines can be as well. NAFEM members are advised to carefully consider how they operationalize Prop 65. To assist, there are many legal groups – mostly in California – that specialize in helping companies comply with the regulations.

The NAFEM advocacy team keeps members apprised of changes to Prop 65 and other regulatory and legislative issues through this newsletter, monthly hot- and cold-side calls and Issue Briefs addressing urgent news.