Prop 65 Cancer Warning Labels on Meat Likely in California

Prop 65 Cancer Warning Labels on Meat Likely in California

On the heels of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) warning earlier this week about the link between processed and red meat and an increased risk of developing cancer, California says it will consider adding meat to its cancer-alert list, best known as Proposition 65 (Prop 65).

“The World Health Organization has put these meats in the same category as cigarettes in terms of the death and danger they deliver,” Stephanie Feldstein, population and sustainability director with the Center for Biological Diversity, said in a statement sent to The Huffington Post. “Now, California must follow suit with public health warnings on the label. And it’s no surprise: the science has been clear that these meats are bad for people, not to mention for wildlife and the planet.”

The official WHO warning points to processed and red meats including bacon, sausage, hot dogs, ham, beef, veal, pork, lamb, mutton, horse, and goat as cause for concern.

“The inclusion of meat and processed meat on the list could reduce consumer demand, hurting major producers and processors like Hormel Foods Corp and JBS USA,” reports Reuters. “It could also open the door wider for litigation against meat companies from consumers diagnosed with certain types of cancer.”

The meat industry claims the WHO findings are flawed, and that meat can and should be part of a healthy diet, but according to Reuters, “some Proposition 65 experts expect California to add processed meats to the list.” And once an item is added, “it is up to the maker to prove to the state that its product is not dangerous enough to warrant a warning label.”

Conventional meat, eggs, and dairy industries continue to be scrutinized and called out for numerous health and environmental risks, as well as a growing number of issues relating to animal welfare. In particular, the state of California has led the nation in legislation for larger chicken cages and a reduced use of antibiotics in livestock feed, citing both human and animal health benefits as the impetus for these laws.

California’s Prop 65 was approved in 1986 and requires the state to list chemicals and other substances that are known to increase the risk of developing cancer. Under the law, manufacturers and producers must provide “clear and reasonable” consumer warnings about their products.

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