Calif. appeals court to hear canned tuna case

Chris Rizo Jan. 27, 2009, 12:01am

Bill Lockyer (D)

SAN FRANCISCO (Legal Newsline)-A California court today will hear a appeal brought by the state attorney general's office over a court decision that exempted tuna canners from a law requiring companies to warn consumers of products containing potentially harmful ingredients.

The 1986 California law, outlined in Proposition 65, requires companies and businesses to provide "clear and reasonable" warnings before exposing people to known carcinogens or reproductive toxins.

The 1st District Court of Appeal in San Francisco will hear the case this morning. The case was brought in 2004 by then-state Attorney General Bill Lockyer.

Defendants in the case include Tri-Union Seafoods, maker of Chicken of the Sea; Del Monte, maker of Starkist; and Bumble Bee Seafoods, maker of Bumble Bee.

In 2006, San Francisco Superior Court Judge Robert Dondero found that tuna canners do not have to include warnings on their products because levels of methylmercury in canned tuna are too low to require Prop. 65-required labeling.

The judge also said that most of the mercury was naturally occurring so it did not require labeling, and even so a U.S. Food and Drug Administration advisory that tuna mercury levels aren't high enough to warrant health warnings took precedence over the state law.

From Legal Newsline: Reach reporter Chris Rizo at

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