Why the Warning on Our Products about California Prop 65?

To Our Valued Partners & Customers,

Allow me to address concerns you may have regarding the Proposition 65 warning found on our product line.

What is Prop 65? In 1986, California voters approved an initiative, known as Proposition 65, to address their growing concerns about exposure to environmental toxins. Proposition 65 requires the State to publish a list of items that can cause cancer or birth defects or other reproductive harm. This list has grown to include more than 800 items since it was first published in 1987, and grows constantly, thanks to lobbyists, lawyers, and private-interest groups seeking to gain advantage.

Does a Prop 65 warning mean that the product will actually cause cancer or other reproductive harm when the product is used in its typical way? No. A Prop 65 warning does not automatically mean that the product is unsafe. Most products used in the way they were intended to are completely harmless. However, if a product can be misused, and it will be, then Prop 65 standards must be applied. For example, for certain toxins, the level for warnings is 1000 times lower than the lowest level at which animal studies reported no reproductive health effect. Thereby a subject would have to consume the designated “toxin” above and beyond its intended use. But this warning doesn’t just apply to certain chemicals that many of us are familiar with, but the following natural products have also been added to the list as items that can cause cancer, birth defects, or other reproductive harm: Culinary water, apples, tomatoes, artichokes, carrots, cucumbers, green beans, lettuce, spinach, potatoes, yams, corn, rice and many, many more fruits and vegetables. Yet, the State of California exempted its own culinary water as well as fruits and vegetables grown in California from having to comply with Prop 65. Clearly, this was a political tactic. Supplement Rx uses many plant-based derivatives in its formulations and cannot guarantee that these plants were all grown in the state of California, thus triggering the warning’s application.

Why is the Prop 65 warning on all Supplement Rx labels? Supplement Rx’s entire product line is available for purchase to all residents nationwide (including California) and has a warehouse in southern California. Supplement Rx manufactures in a FDA-registered facility with the highest of standards and testing. The labs, where are products are manufactured, are subject to regular and random inspections by the FDA, as well as other manufacturing governing bodies. Many of the truly carcinogenic chemicals listed in Prop 65 are already regulated by the FDA on a national level, and Supplement Rx adheres to these standards without compromise.

However, businesses operating in the state of California are subject to a growing list of mandates and regulations, which sets up an optimal environment for predatory lawsuits, even if based on false pretenses. Many attorneys have set-up shop in California for the sole purpose of manipulating the spirit of the law to building fortunes by collecting settlement after settlement at the business and tax-payers’ expense. The cost of proving a yourself or your business innocent has become so prohibitive in California that it’s now easier and less costly to include these warnings, even if they do not apply, to all products that have the potential to be sold inside the state of California. Supplement Rx uses many plant-based derivatives in its formulations and cannot guarantee that these plants were all grown in the state of California or were grown with water from the state of California, thus triggering the warning’s application.

As a company, we feel it is our duty to protect not only our business, but our employees’ jobs as well. Thus, Supplement Rx has chosen to follow suit with other leading supplement brands and put the Prop 65 warning on all product labels, even though we feel that the warning does not belong on Supplement Rx products. We believe this application of the warning to our line will help protect us from predatory lawsuits that could cripple our operations and cause potential layoffs. For example, in one Prop 65 case, the only allegation is that the company failed to provide a warning – there is no claim that anyone has been harmed by the product at issue. And yet, the company bears the burden of proof to establish that a warning is not required on its products, which can be a very expensive process, and dietary supplement companies are frequent targets of these suits.

Why don’t other products from other manufacturers have the Prop 65 Warning? A lack of warnings for a product does not necessarily mean that the products is free of the same substances at similar levels. Even a trace amount of a listed chemical can trigger the required warning. It is seen on products sold outside California because manufacturers want to save money by having the same labels on each of their products. Some companies create a separation of products so that only products sold in California contain the warning. Finally, some companies naively believe they won’t be sued by these opportunistic lawyers.

Is Prop 65 effective? While we believe the voters had the best interests in mind when this originally passed, this proposition has since been hijacked by corrupt politicians and lawyers seeking to make money. The warning is so overused, it has lost its effect of actually warning people of legitimate dangers. Prop 65 warnings are seen throughout California in a wide range of settings -- in restaurants, grocery stores, hotels, schools, hospitals, bars, restaurants, coffee shops, schools, apartment buildings, as well as every California theme park has it posted just to avoid potential lawsuits.

Much of the population is so accustomed to seeing these prolific Proposition 65 warnings that the warning has become meaningless. California’s rate of cancer is no lower than any other state, which suggests that these warnings have had no impact. In just one year, companies paid in excess of $26 million due to Proposition 65 lawsuits and lawyers get to sit back and collect 70% of that money paid by businesses; money that could have been used to create more high-paying jobs for more of the populous instead of lining lawyers’ pockets. These settlements can kill small businesses whose goal is just to help people seek health. A specific set of trial lawyers and high-frequency litigants have taken to suing small businesses for minor infractions, turning the good intentions of others into profit centers for themselves.


Frank Plasso
Supplement Rx

For just one of many examples on how CA Prop 65 is being used, see below.

Starbucks coffee in California must have cancer warning, judge says
Story by Reuters: Starbucks Corp and other coffee sellers must put a cancer warning on coffee sold in California, a Los Angeles judge has ruled, possibly exposing the companies to millions of dollars in fines. Read the full story