The Truth About Prop 65 (LEAD In Your Food)

In 1986, California passed Proposition 65 (the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act). The law was created to protect citizens from high levels of chemicals existing in certain consumer products. This law began with the good intentions of protecting the public (originally 30 chemicals were pin-pointed however now over 800), but has quickly made a way for for-profit law firms to exploit small businesses and make some ca$h.

Many natural food companies have found themselves in high stakes lawsuits from Prop 65. Why? This warning label is required for any products being sold in California, containing certain amounts of heavy metals. Note: it’s ONLY for California, and the entire rest of the nation is not concerned (or shall I say, money hungry).


What triggered this California Prop 65 labeling requirement are lead and cadmium. These are both naturally occurring minerals present in soil around the globe, and as such can be absorbed by plants grown in that soil. The standards for lead and cadmium levels by Prop 65 are specific to the state of California and are way more strict than what the World Health Organization (WHO), Canada and the United States Pharmacopeia (USP), European Union (EU), and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Common food with traces of these naturally occurring minerals include:
• Vegetables
• Fruits
• Grains
• Nuts
• Seeds
and even meat, seafood, and dairy (but far less than plants since animals eat the plants growing in the soil containing these minerals)


12.5 mcg per day for adults
3 mcg per day for children

The FDA conducted this study to determine the amount of lead in typical foods and establish safe levels. Here is what they found according to Redmond (still backed by the study linked above.)

Fresh collard greens can contain up to 30 mcg of lead (50x higher than prop 65 stipulates!)
Dry roasted mix nuts can contain up to 20 mcg of lead
Brussels sprouts can contain up to 15 mcg of lead
Sweet potatoes can contain up to 16 mcg of lead
Spinach can contain up to 15 mcg of lead

So I am not the only one out there stating Proposition 65 has gone a bit too far and is really just a California “law” to make bank (again, why aren’t the other states jumping on this wagon? – I guess if they were smart they’d want to cash in on this sly proposition too!).

So basically, packaged foods and supplements are required by law to have this warning statement on their packaging if they don’t want to risk getting sued if by chance a 3rd party decides to test a batch of their products and happens to find the levels are above the the limit (even if it’s just one mcg above) and each batch of product is different because, guess what?! ….NATURAL PRODUCTS ARE ALL DIFFERENT! You will never see the same sweet potato again. So each sweet potato will have variations of lead mineral levels and every other thing that comes from the soil (hemp protein, pea protein, seeds, nuts, cacao, greens, fruits, etc.)

I am not saying we shouldn’t be aware of lead in our food, all I am saying is to not be scared of this “warning” you will be seeing more often on natural food products. Companies (mostly smaller companies that can’t afford to pay someone under the table to keep things hush hush) are just trying to protect themselves legally.

In addition, Alcohol is also on this list stating substances that causes cancer, however the Prop 65 warning is not required to be on alcoholic beverages (though they do have a different warning).

THERE IS FAR MUCH MORE LEAD IN FRUITS AND VEGETABLES THAN THERE ARE IN NATURAL FOOD PRODUCTS. But it’s not required to label them as such. A friendly reminder to always do your research as to who is behind these laws and the reason you see them. Food for thought.

You can read all about Prop 65 HERE.

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