Naturally Occurring Lead in Produce under Proposition 65

Question: Lead is naturally occurring in soil. Do fruits and vegetables therefore need a Proposition 65 warning?

Answer: Chemicals and substances such as lead do occur naturally in the soil, and as a result, Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) regulations have an exemption for listed chemicals in food.  Some of the listed substances and chemicals occur naturally in foods, either as an inherent part of composition, through the absorption of substances in the soil or for other reasons.

However, businesses selling fruits and vegetables with trace amounts of these chemicals and substances in California must demonstrate listed chemicals are naturally occurring and at the “lowest level currently feasible.” In the state of California, the term “naturally occurring” is defined in very specific terms; see the California Code of Regulations, Title 27, Section 25501 for more information.

Provided fruits and vegetables meet this definition, there is no need for the addition of Proposition 65 warnings.

This content is current as of July 19, 2019.

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