Monday 21 March 2011

The apple and grape juices on these shelves contain lead

Today at the supermarket, as I was picking up my usual 2 quarts of Mott's apple juice, I was confronted with this sign.

WTF?  If it has lead in it, TAKE IT OFF THE SHELF.  Don't just put up a little sign that I'm unlikely to read anyway.  Or better yet, how about making apple juice without lead in it in the first place?

It turns out that this ridiculous warning is the product of a similarly ridiculous piece of legislation voted in by Californians in 1986.  While the intent is good - to notify people of unsafe chemicals they are exposed to - the execution is pretty poor.  The FAQ will tell you that just because a product carries a warning, doesn't mean it is unsafe.  In fact, as the FAQ points out, since there are no reporting requirements on companies the state government can't tell you why a company has chosen to make a declaration, or indeed tell you anything useful such as, for which chemical, how long, and at what level.

Take my apple juice.  A warning needs to be posted unless exposure is low enough to pose no significant risk, which (for cancer causing chemicals) is defined as:
the level of exposure that would result in not more than one excess case of cancer in 100,000 individuals exposed to the chemical over a 70-year lifetime. In other words, a person exposed to the chemical at the “no significant risk level” for 70 years would not have more than a “one in 100,000” chance of developing cancer as a result of that exposure.
This statement seems full of holes, which is probably why the law has made shady lawyers a lot of money.  What does 70 years of exposure mean for apple juice anyway?  A glass a day?  A gallon a day?

It is very common for Californian apartment garages to have a declaration due to the chemicals present in car exhaust.  This is the one on ours - scary huh?

I suspect the levels of chemicals would only be harmful if you lived in the garage for 70 years.  But who knows?  The law says the apartment owners should be able to tell you, but they just put the sign up so they don't get sued.

In any case, I'm more happy ignoring this sign on the garage than on my apple juice.  Labelling law FAIL.

1 comment:

Anna G said...

man that is bizarre! It's like tobacco labelling has been applied to everything else. Will you ignore the sign on the garage when the gruesome pictures start appearing along with the text???