Is it Safe To Eat Food With Prop. 65 Warning Label?

Last Update: August 30, 2023

If you’ve picked up a bag of Thrive Market superfoods, you’ve probably noticed a small warning label on the package… that’s the Prop. 65 warning label. And now you’re probably wondering, is it safe to eat food with a p65 warning? It might look off-putting, but the reason it’s there isn’t frightening at all.

In 1986, California voters approved Proposition 65, an initiative intended to keep residents safe from dangerous chemicals and environmental toxins. The law requires the state to publish a list of chemicals known to cause cancer, birth defects, and reproductive harm, and requires businesses to notify customers if any of their products contain them. If you live in California, you’ve probably seen these warnings posted outside older apartment buildings and storefronts.

Seems like a good idea, right? While written with the best of intentions, Prop. 65 isn’t very clear. In the ’80s, it covered just 30 chemicals—now, it has expanded its list to more than 800. The law also requires businesses to notify consumers of contamination by minuscule amounts of these toxins. We’re talking up to 1,000 times smaller than what is generally considered safe. As attorney Lisa Halko told the Los Angeles Times, “Prop. 65 creates alarm about trace amounts of chemicals that have no actual risk or have a risk that is obviously outweighed by the benefit of the food.”

Under California law, businesses have to provide “clear and reasonable” warning before exposing consumers to any of the chemicals named. That’s why Thrive Market’s line of superfoods bear a small Prop. 65 label.

A common question consumers ask is simply this: “Is it safe to eat food with a p65 warning?” 

According to the California Government website, just because “some foods contain Proposition 65-listed chemicals. This does not mean that these foods should never be eaten.” 

NOTE: link to this site: 

Though we take great pride in the purity of our ingredients, and all of our superfoods are certified organic, we don’t want to mislead consumers—or break the law.Some superfoods naturally contain small amounts of certain heavy metals—they’re not added during processing or packaging. These levels are well under the safe harbor amounts determined by both the World Health Organization and the federal government but, depending on the serving size, may be close to or exceed the Prop. 65 level. Even within a single yield from the same organic farm, different servings can hold different amounts of heavy metals—some below the safe harbor level, and some above it. Some products Thrive Market carries can contain small amounts of lead or cadmium. Though not every package with the Prop. 65 label holds these substances; it’s our duty as a brand to let you know and be as transparent as possible.

Remember, if you’re still curious about if it’s safe to eat food with p65 warning, the answer is yes. 

Is there a list of foods with a Prop. 65 warning?

The list of products that should have a Prop. 65 warning label includes a wide range of chemicals and is not specific to foods. 

Therefore, no particular foods are part of the p65 warning list. However, it is important to note that certain foods may contain chemicals on the p65 warning list. For example, some fish species may contain high levels of mercury, which is on the Prop 65 list. 

A Prop. 65 warning on food also depends on the packaging materials used, such as plastic containers or cans lined with bisphenol A (BPA).

Illustration by Foley Wu

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