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Cans, Bottles and Bacon Escape Warning Labels (For Now)



An emergency rule from California health regulators will prevent hazardous chemical labels on soup cans and water bottles in the grocery store, at least for now. Bacon and processed meats will also avoid labels in the near future.


The chemical BPA is commonly used in cans and bottles at levels the U.S. Food and Drug Administration calls safe. A state science panel disagreed last year. It voted to include BPA on a list of chemicals that can cause reproductive harm. Under voter-approved Proposition 65, companies need to warn customers the products contain potentially hazardous chemicals.

But in an emergency rule, the state is delaying the requirement for six months.

“We’ve never had a warning that applied to so many products,” says Sam Delson of the state Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment. “This would give companies time to either adjust their labeling or reformulate and make their product safer.”

Under the rule, grocers will post signs at cash registers warning that some products contain hazardous chemicals—without saying which ones.

Some health advocates say the temporary rule creates a loophole, allowing companies to sell BPA-laden products to unwitting customers.

The state hopes new federal research could allow it to set a safe limit for BPA exposure. That might negate the need for warning labels.


California regulators do not have a timeline for when—or if—bacon and other processed meats could require warning labels.

A World Health Organization agency added processed meats to its list of “known carcinogens” last year. Under state rules, California must add the meats to its own list of chemicals and substances requiring Proposition 65 labels.

Delson says his agency is still reviewing the World Health Organization classification and there’s still no timeline.

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