California Court to Hear Tuna Labeling Appeal

A California court today will hear an appeal brought by the state attorney general's office over a court decision that exempted tuna canners from labeling products warning consumers of potentially harmful ingredients.

The law, outlined in Proposition 65, requires companies and businesses to provide "clear and reasonable" warnings before exposing consumers to known carcinogens or reproductive toxins.

Defendants in the case include Chicken of the Sea parent company Tri-Union Seafoods, StarKist producer Del Monte Foods (now owned by South Korea's Dongwon Group) and Bumble Bee Foods (owned by Canada's Connors Bros.).

The case was originally brought to court in 2004. In 2006, a San Francisco Superior Court judge ruled in favor of the tuna canners on all three aspects of the case: that Food and Drug Administration laws preempt California's Prop 65 law, that the exposure of methylmercury in canned tuna is below the maximum allowable level, and that methylmercury in tuna fits into the "naturally occurring" exception to Prop 65 since tuna canners cannot control the level of mercury in their products. 


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