Now is the time to update your Proposition 65 warnings in California. On August 30, 2018, new regulations go into effect changing the warnings required for the food and beverage industries. Amendments to California’s Proposition 65, also known as the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986, require businesses to provide “clear and reasonable” warnings about the presence of certain chemicals, including chemicals in food, beverages, and other consumer products manufactured, sold or distributed to consumers. The new regulations provide new suggested language as a “safe harbor” which meets the “clear and reasonable” standard.

While Prop 65 has been around for 30 years, recent actions focus on food and beverage products, including: acrylamide in coffee, baked goods, French fries and chips; furfuryl alcohol, which can be found in a variety of foods including baked goods, coffee and pasteurized milk; and, of course, alcohol beverages.

Here we highlight the updated warnings applicable to establishments that sell food products, including shops and restaurants. While some establishments and distributors may already provide warnings, the 2018 “safe harbor” language has new requirements. Key changes include a requirement to identify the chemical and include the address of the State’s Proposition 65 website.

Importantly, the new regulations specifically include products sold on the internet. It is imperative that warnings be provided pre-purchase – before the final confirmation of the shipment. This can be accomplished by including the warning on the product page, product description, or at warnings appearing with California addresses before the consumer finalizes the purchase.

California restaurants with 10 or more employees must post a warning at the public entrance to the restaurant and at each point of display. Restaurants may also choose to provide the Prop 65 warnings on their menus.

Alcohol sales still require warnings. Stores and restaurants that sell alcoholic beverages should update their alcohol-specific warning.