Does the amendment to Proposition 65 affect your business?

If you’re supplying food products to consumers in California, have you made the suggested changes to your packaging following the amendment to Proposition 65?

It’s thought that many manufacturers are not aware of the modification to the legislation that products should now feature “clear and reasonable” warnings to consumers about the presence of certain chemicals. While not mandatory, implementation of these changes would be seen as best practice and could help to protect you from costly legal action if something did occur.

The following blog post will discuss how automating your packaging line can help you comply with the amended Proposition 65 and how the act could affect your business.

What is Proposition 65?

In 1986, California introduced Proposition 65, officially known as the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act. The government published a list of chemicals known to cause cancer or reproductive harm, which currently features around 1,000 chemicals. Businesses with 10 or more employees subsequently had to provide warnings if their products contained significant levels of these listed ingredients. This was intended to help consumers make informed decisions about what they purchase(1).

How did Proposition 65 change in August 2018?

Since the introduction of the proposition, many warning labels on food products simply stated that one of the chemicals on the list was present, but failed to provide details of which to help consumers.

From the 30th of August 2018, the government in California has strengthened the Proposition to give consumers more clarity about what they’re purchasing and how they can reduce the risks of ingesting chemicals.

The main change for manufacturers is that the warning on product’s packaging, amongst other things, must be updated, to include:

  • Identification that the product “can expose you to” a chemical (instead of “containing”)

  • The name of at least one listed chemical.

  • The new Proposition 65 warnings website where consumers can find additional information on health effects and ways to reduce or eliminate exposure.

  • A triangular yellow warning symbol.

The below image shows what labels were required to say before the amendment and how labels should appear post 30th August 2018.

Proposition 65 label.JPG

What does this mean for my business?

Despite the regulation stating that the changes are not mandatory for compliance, it is considered good practice for manufacturers to provide “clear and reasonable” warnings to help avoid legal action if an incident does occur. It has been predicted that legal action against manufacturers will rise now this amendment is in place(2).

For products manufactured before 30th August 2018, the new warnings aren’t needed as long as they meet the requirements in place at the time of production.

In addition, special warnings approved by courts in previous settlements will remain in effect. For example, the exemption of warnings for acrylamide on breakfast cereals and coffee will still stand until the effects are better understood.

How can I protect myself?

As specified as a requirement in many retailer codes of practice, an automated verification system can help manufacturers ensure the correct information is on the right product before leaving the factory. OAL Connected’s market-leading label and date code verification module can provide manufacturers with this protection, handling the complexities of date coding, labelling and packaging verification.

How does the system work?

The system scans the barcode of every product on the packaging line and checks the information collected against the job specification downloaded from the master database. We use a 2D barcode as opposed to a 1D barcode (which is managed by the retailer) as it provides manufacturers with the control over the packaging revision/artwork number integral for ensuring the correct warning labels have been put on the right product. If a mismatch error is identified, the line automatically stops, an alarm sounds and intervention from a higher level of authority is required to carry out the specific procedure for that factory to ensure the fault is identified, recorded and resolved to avoid continuous errors.

Through research and development, we’ve also introduced our APRIL Eye module to the OAL Connected package, a next-generation date code verification system. APRIL Eye uses artificial intelligence to read and check information such as date codes, just like a human, but with more accuracy and consistency and with the traceability food manufacturers need.

Why OAL Connected?

As the market leader, we’re currently securing over 1,200 lines in the UK and overseas against product recalls caused by label and packaging errors. Our supplier relationships and industry experience have allowed us to develop a system that can be adapted to fit in your factory set-up and meet your individual requirements.

If you’re interested in finding out more about how OAL solutions can help you overcome the challenges of the new legislation, please contact our team.




Lauren Moir