What Is the Prop 65 Warning for California Residents?

“Prop 65”, or Proposition 65, is a law specific to the State of California that requires products sold in California to carry warnings about potential exposure to a list of 900 substances “known to the state” to cause a potential threat to health.

We are required by California law to post the following about Pure Food products:

WARNING: This product can expose you to chemicals including lead and cadmium, which is known to the State of California to cause birth defects or other reproductive harm. For more information go to www.P65Warnings.ca.gov.”

As a parent of two children (an infant and a toddler), I understand how this warning appears.

So let me put your mind at ease a little: Pure Food is safe. It’s been third party tested in an independent lab (I’ll share the results below).

There are a few facts I also wanted to make you aware of, based on many hours of research on this topic, talking to doctors, lawyers, and other health experts:

Fact #1:

Heavy metals like lead, cadmium, mercury, and arsenic naturally occur in water and soils … they’re not added to protein powders

Plant-based foods generally contain higher levels of heavy metals than meat because they’re grown in soil.

Fact #2:

California’s daily limit for lead, in particular, is 0.5 mcg, which is 10x more stringent than safe levels established by the World Health Organization, National Science Foundation, and EPA (see below). 

Whether the soil is certified organic, or conventional, and regardless of whether the plant is organic or genetically modified, lead is naturally found in many fruits and vegetables at levels that commonly exceed Prop 65 limit of 0.5 mcg.

For example, a serving of turnips, apples, artichokes, carrots, cucumbers, green beans, spinach, brown rice, almonds and other nuts contain measurable amounts considerably higher than the artificial limits established in Prop 65.

Here are some examples: 

Source: Total Diet Study (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4609970/ and https://www.fda.gov/downloads/food…totaldietstudy/ucm184301.pdf)

These food products don’t have to carry the warning label because they’re not classified as supplements!

Long story short, there’s not a single plant-based protein powder that has lead levels under .5 mcg in a serving. If they say they do, a) they haven’t been tested, b) they’re not interpreting their test results properly, or c) they’re lying. It’s just not possible for any plant-based protein powder with over 10 grams of protein in a serving to meet these arbitrary levels.

Doesn’t matter where the proteins were grown either …

When the State of California conducted a soil-lead-uptake analysis of its own soil, from 70 different locations, they found that most vegetables averaged four times the Prop 65 lead limits.

How Much Lead Is Safe?

Here’s what research says:

  • Five micrograms per deciliter (μg/dL) was adopted by CDC in 2012 as the upper reference range value for blood lead levels (BLLs) in children as an advisory level for environmental and educational intervention [ACCLPP 2012].
  • Experts now use an upper reference level value of 97.5% of the population distribution for children’s blood lead, based on the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) estimate of the distribution of BLLs in children ages 1-5 years. In 2012-2015, the value to identify children with blood lead levels that are much higher than most children have, is 5 micrograms per deciliter (5 μg/dL) [ACCLPP 2012].
  • The National Toxicology Program [2012] concludes that there is sufficient evidence for adverse health effects in children and adults at BLL <5 μg/dL [CDC 2012].

Note these are blood lead levels. Just because you eat a serving of Brussel’s sprouts, doesn’t mean your body will absorb the entire 7.9 mcg in one serving.

FACT #3:

In the last 10 years, the issue of Proposition 65 warnings with respect to foods has become an increasingly hot topic of debate and litigation.

Legal proceedings to enforce Prop 65 against manufacturers are instituted by the State of California, private attorneys, or private citizen “bounty hunters”, who collect tens of millions of dollars every year. It’s spawned an industry of fearmongering opportunists hoping to make a quick buck.

Heavy Metal Levels In Pure Food Protein

All of our proteins, including our brown rice protein, undergo extensive 3rd party testing to monitor heavy metal levels. Our ingredients far surpass standard levels set by organizations including the World Health Organization (WHO), US FDA, EPA, National Science Foundation, European Union, and Canadian Natural Health Products Directorate (see the chart under Fact #2).

Here are the current heavy metal levels in our protein:

Arsenic (ppm) Cadmium (ppm) Lead (ppm)
Pure Food Vanilla (1 serving) 0.144 0.944 0.64
Pure Food Cacao  (1 serving) 0.24 3.184 0.848
Prop 65 Limit 10 4.1 0.5