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New Prop. 65 warning label changes go into effect soon

Published August 23, 2017

BOULDER, Colo. (BRAIN) — The Bicycle Product Suppliers Association has sent a letter to its members informing them of updates to California's Prop. 65 warning label regulations. The changes go into effect Aug. 30, 2018.

The new regulations require that companies now detail what specific chemical is contained in the product in excess of the allowable amount. Under the old law, companies could have a generic warning that a product contained harmful chemicals without detailing which ones. Not every chemical has to be listed, but those that a company is aware of and tested for should be.

"Before, you didn't have to test for the hundreds of chemicals. If you knew there were three or four, you could use a generic warning label," said Matt Moore, QBP's general counsel and a BPSA board member. "Now you have to be specific about the chemicals in the product.

"Not having a warning label when you need one is the most urgent matter — then having the right language," Moore said.

However, 22 bicycle companies that were part of a group settlement in 2006 when litigation over lead content in cable housing and handlebar grips came to the fore are exempt from the new requirements. This group can continue to use the labels approved back then as part of the settlement, which included a safe harbor warning that greatly reduces the changes of future litigation, Moore said. The 2006 settlement also protected downstream customers of the 22 companies.

Moore noted that many BPSA members were not involved in that settlement, however.

The 22 companies in the settlement group were Chia Cherne Industry Company, Shimano, SRAM, QBP, Pacific Cycle, Trek, Giant, Specialized, Bell Sports, Raleigh, Cannondale, Cyclereuope USA (including the Bianchi brand), G. Joannou Cycle Co., Dynacraft BSC, Electra Bicycle Co., Felt Bicycles, Advanced Sports (including the Fuji brand), REI (including the Novara brand), Scott USA, Iron Horse Bicycle Co. and Kung Hsue She.

Moore said online retailers have lagged on compliance with Prop. 65 labeling requirements. Amazon has been the subject of numerous lawsuits in recent years because it sells so many products, he said.

"I think other retailers need to get up to speed by 2018," Moore said. "Website and any software changes take time. But websites need to change to be compliant."

The recent revisions to Prop. 65 labeling took a couple years to reach their final form. The first round of the proposed changes wouldn't have recognized prior settlements, but that was thrown out after the OEHHA received initial feedback and comments.

The 2006 settlement helped bring key BPSA members together to work collaboratively and share costs, Moore said.

"Otherwise, each of the companies could have been sued individually and would have had to hire a defense firm and wasted resources," he said. Attorney fees per company could have easily added up to six figures.

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