The California Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) has proposed an emergency action to temporarily allow the use of standard point-of- sale warning messages for bisphenol A (BPA) exposures from canned and bottled foods and beverages. Under Proposition 65 (Prop. 65) regulations, consumer products that contain any chemical known to the state to cause reproductive toxicity or cancer must display a “clear and reasonable” warning on “labeling, shelf tags, shelf signs, menus or any combination thereof as long as the warning is prominent and conspicuous.”

Starting May 11, 2016, all foods and beverages that result in BPA exposure must display a similar warning “unless the person causing the exposure can show that the exposure is 1,000 times below the no observed effect level for the chemical.” To avoid consumer confusion and give manufacturers time to transition to BPA-free packaging, OEHHA proposes allowing the temporary use of point-of-sale warnings in lieu of product and menu labeling or shelf signs.

“Widespread Proposition 65 warnings for numerous canned food products may prompt such individuals to reduce, or to forego entirely, purchasing canned or bottled vegetables and fruits, to the detriment of their own health,” notes OEHHA. “Proposition 65 warnings typically help consumers make informed decisions about which products to purchase. But BPA warnings will be unusual in that they will apply to a wide range of nutritious canned food products where alternative choices are not always available.”

In addition, OEHHA has issued a notice of proposed rulemaking under Prop. 65 that would amend Section 25805(b) of Title 27 of the California Code of Regulations to set a maximum allowable dose level (MADL) of 3 micrograms per day for dermal BPA exposure from solid materials, such as paper receipts. To this end, OEHHA relied on a 2014 study that identified a subcutaneous lowest observable effect level of “0.05 milligrams BPA per kilogram body weight per day (mg/kg-day) for female reproductive toxicity.”

“This proposed regulatory amendment would adopt a MADL that conforms with the Proposition 65 implementing regulations and reflects the currently available scientific knowledge about BPA,” states OEHHA. “The MADL provides assurance to the regulated community that exposures or discharges at or below it are considered not to pose a significant risk of developmental or reproductive harm. Exposures at or below the MADL are exempt from the warning and discharge requirements of Proposition 65.”