Proposition 65 Warning Required for Furfuryl Alcohol as of September 30, 2017

Environmental Law  

October 5, 2017

On and after September 30, 2017, a Proposition 65 warning is required for products containing furfuryl alcohol (CAS No. 98-00-0). California’s Proposition 65, also known as the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986—or “Prop. 65”—prohibits businesses from releasing chemicals “known to the state to cause cancer or reproductive toxicity,” and from exposing people to chemicals on the Prop. 65 List without providing “clear and reasonable” warnings.

The Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) added furfuryl alcohol to the Prop. 65 list on September 30, 2016 as a carcinogen. A variety of organizations opposed the listing, arguing that there was insufficient evidence to demonstrate furfuryl alcohol is carcinogenic in humans. However, OEHHA proceeded with the listing under the authoritative bodies mechanism set forth in Title 27, California Code of Regulations, Section 25306. Under the Prop. 65 regulations, businesses are required to provide a warning for exposures to furfuryl alcohol one year after its listing by OEHHA.

Furfuryl alcohol is an organic compound that is commonly found in thermally processed foods including baked goods, coffee, milk, and alcoholic beverages such as wine and beer. Furfuryl alcohol forms when amino acids react with sugar in a process known as a “Maillard” reaction, which provides many thermally processed foods with their distinct taste and golden-brown color.

The presence of furfuryl alcohol in consumer products does not necessarily mean a Prop. 65 warning is required. If the exposure to furfuryl alcohol from a particular product or occupation is below the no significant risk level (“NSRL”), a warning is not required.  However, a business will need to engage a toxicologist to make this determination.  For products that cause exposure to furfuryl alcohol above the NSRL, a Prop 65 warning will now be required.

For assistance in complying with Proposition 65, and determining whether and how to provide a warning for furfuryl alcohol, please contact us.