The Chanler Group Files Three Lawsuits against National Food Suppliers over
Prop 65 for Environmentalists
Research Shows Food Extracts, Flavors, and Coloring Additives Contain Toxic
BERKELEY, Calif. -- April 2, 2013
The Chanler Group (www.chanler.com), a Connecticut-based environmental law
firm, has filed Proposition 65 civil complaints on behalf of Whitney R.
Leeman, Ph.D., against three prominent national food suppliers: spice and
flavoring manufacturer McCormick & Company, Inc.; coffee and flavoring
manufacturer Farmer Bros. Co.; as well as Adams Extract & Spice, LLC. All
complaints are filed in the Superior Court of the State of California, San
Francisco County for the firm’s client. The complaints charge the three
defendants with distributing food extracts, flavors and colorings containing
unacceptable levels of the carcinogenic chemical 4-MEI, or 4-Methylimidazole,
without a proper consumer warning label.
The Chanler Group had previously issued 60-day notices of violation, urging
the manufacturers to comply with California's Proposition 65 requirements. The
state law calls for manufacturers and retailers to label products containing
known carcinogenic toxins with a warning to inform consumers prior to
exposure. The 4-MEI compound is frequently added to food products for its
caramel color. It was first added to Prop. 65's list of chemicals known to the
state of California to cause cancer in January of 2011.
“This particular compound has been listed as a carcinogen for two years now,
but many products still contain the toxic chemical without the labeling
required by law,” said Clifford Chanler
and spokesperson for The Chanler Group. “The safety of consumers is important
to us. These three companies are united by a responsibility to either remove
the toxic chemicals from their manufacturing processes, or to label those
products in compliance with the law.”
Beginning in 2012, The Chanler Group independently purchased a variety of
products from McCormick & Company, Inc., Farmer Bros. Co., and Adams Extract &
Spice, LLC. The products were then tested in a certified laboratory, where
significant levels of 4-MEI were detected. The 4-MEI compound is also commonly
found in pharmaceuticals, photographic chemicals, dyes, pigments, cleaning
products, and rubber products.
The three civil complaints call for injunctive action on the part of the
court, which would compel McCormick & Company, Inc., Farmer Bros. Co., and
Adams Extract & Spice, LLC to either change their manufacturing processes to
reduce or eliminate the presence of 4-MEI, or to clearly label all products
containing the chemical. Chanler Group is also seeking civil penalties, 75% of
which are payable to California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard
Assessment, against these defendants in accordance with California's Health
and Safety Code.
The Chanler Group represents citizen enforcers and whistleblowers who promote
awareness of toxic chemicals found in our everyday environment and to enhance
the health of the general public by advocating for the removal of chemicals
known to cause cancer or reproductive harm from consumer products. The Chanler
Group and its clients apply over 20 years of knowledge and experience to their
ongoing enforcement activities with the goal of holding those responsible for
toxic exposures accountable for their violations of state and federal law.
In addition to strict compliance with the law, The Chanler Group’s clients
have forced hundreds of companies to reformulate commonly used products,
eliminating chemicals that are known to cause cancer or birth defects. Some of
those companies now manufacture only non-toxic products. Additionally, The
Chanler Group has been instrumental in generating over $100 million in civil
fines and other funds for projects that educate children, workers and
consumers about precautions they can take to significantly reduce toxic
chemical exposure. The Chanler Group’s ongoing efforts effectuate change for a
cleaner environment. For more information, please visit www.chanler.com.
for The Chanler Group
Gary Pike, APR, 415-585-2100
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