Judge Enjoins State from Filing New Lawsuits Involving Acrylamide Warnings

Chief United States District Judge Kimberly Mueller yesterday granted its motion for preliminary injunction in a Proposition 65 case involving acrylamide warnings on food and beverages, barring the California Attorney General and anyone else from filing new lawsuits against businesses that do not display these types of Proposition 65 acrylamide warnings.

Acrylamide is naturally occurring and found in many foods. It often forms as a result of a reaction between sugars and the amino acid asparagine, which naturally occurs in many foods. Roasting, baking, frying, or otherwise cooking food at a high temperature appears to cause acrylamide to form, whether at home or at industrial scale.

“We are on the side of common sense,” said CalChamber President and CEO Allan Zaremberg. “This lawsuit is about reducing unnecessary fear for consumers and litigation threats for businesses.”

In the ruling, Judge Mueller states that, “no person may file or prosecute a new lawsuit to enforce the Proposition 65 warning requirement for cancer as applied to acrylamide in food and beverage products. This injunction applies to the requirement that any ‘person in the course of doing business’ provide a ‘clear and reasonable warning’ for cancer before ‘expos[ing] any individual to’ acrylamide in food and beverage products under California 10 Health & Safety Code § 25249.6.”

The CalChamber stated in a news release yesterday that “…for far too long, California businesses have been forced to provide Proposition 65 warnings on foods and beverages based on unproven science and the expense of litigation. Yesterday’s ruling vindicates the bedrock requirement that, before requiring anyone, including businesses, to say something they disagree with, the government must ensure that the statement is purely factual and non-controversial. Proposition 65 warnings for acrylamide in food do not meet that standard.”

Judge Mueller also denied a motion for summary judgment filed by the Council for Education and Research on Toxics (CERT) in the case, California Chamber of Commerce v. Xavier Becerra, in his official capacity as Attorney General of the State of California.