On March 30, 2021, the news provider Courthouse News Service reported the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California has granted a preliminary injunction that will halt new lawsuits against food companies not compliant with a Proposition 65 warning requirement for acrylamide (CAS 79-06-1) in food and beverages.
Acrylamide is used to make plastic and cosmetic products and is also sometimes found naturally in food. It can be intentionally used in food packaging, for example, in adhesives of multilayered packaging films, which allows it to potentially migrate into food (see FPF’s Food Contact Chemicals database).
The National Toxicology Program’s Report on Carcinogens from 1990 lists acrylamide as “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen” based on the results from several animal studies. Those experimental trials have shown that rats fed with water and food containing acrylamide were more likely to develop cancerous tumors. In the 1990s, the State of California decided to demand mandatory cancer warning labels be placed on products containing acrylamide.
In 2019, the Californian Chamber of Commerce filed a case challenging acrylamide warning labels for food and beverage products, claiming there is no scientific consensus, and arguing that such labels “are inherently misleading to consumers” and the state “is unconstitutionally forcing speech.”
U.S. District Judge Kimberly Mueller granted the California Chamber of Commerce’s motion for a preliminary injunction, which protects companies from being sued for not putting Proposition 65 warning labels on food and beverages containing acrylamide as long as there is no final judgment. The injunction was granted in part because the court found that “the State has not shown that the cancer warnings it requires are purely factual and uncontroversial.”
However, this will only apply to new acrylamide lawsuits and not have any impact on preexisting acrylamide agreements. Further, the motion for summary judgment has been denied.
Nick Cahill (March 30, 2021). “Federal Judge Orders Pause of California Lawsuits Over Cancer Warning Labels.” Courthouse News Service
KH (April 12, 2021). “Court Halts New Lawsuits Concerning Prop 65 Acrylamide Cancer Warnings.”