March 16, 2018
Authored by: Merrit Jones, Tom Lee, Megan Irwin and Susan Brice
California Proposition 65 litigation over acrylamide in food has been heating up lately, receiving national news coverage in anticipation of a ruling in a fiercely contested case involving exposure to acrylamide in coffee.
Acrylamide is generated when certain foods are baked, fried or otherwise heated to high temperatures, causing the food to brown or caramelize. Acrylamide is particularly likely to be formed in high-carbohydrate foods such as French fries, potato and vegetable chips, cookies, crackers, cereals, breads and bagels, but also has been found in grilled meat, some fruits, nuts and – perhaps most notoriously – coffee.
Prop. 65 prohibits businesses from knowingly and intentionally exposing California consumers to a chemical known to the state of California to cause cancer or reproductive harm without first providing a warning. (Cal. Health & Safety Code § 25249.6.) For some listed chemicals, California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard