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'Rectifying a Toxic Mistake'

September 10, 1989

In response to "Rectifying a Toxic Mistake," editorial, Aug. 24:

Although The Times would propose a different method of providing warnings for consumer products under the Clean Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986, the Ingredient Communication Council (ICC) strongly believes that our toll-free telephone number, periodic newspaper advertisements, and over 80,000 in-store signs constitute a system of providing the consumers of California with "clear and reasonable warning." The ICC system provides an important service that we believe will be upheld as we appeal the ruling of the Superior Court challenging the validity of the ICC system.

Methodology aside, however, your editorial contains factual inaccuracies that must be addressed. First, you state that Proposition 65 requires that "products carry a 'clear and reasonable' label." This is incorrect. The law mandates not labels, but that "a clear and reasonable warning" be given. The regulations which were promulgated by the Health and Welfare Agency to implement Proposition 65, moreover, unequivocally provide that labels are not the only acceptable warning method and give those who must warn a choice of "safe harbor" or other warning mechanisms, one which is an 800 number system.

Second, you state that "all food and drug items certified by the federal government are exempt from labeling for the time being." This too is incorrect. There are interim Proposition 65 regulations exempting certain federally regulated products from cancer warnings, but there is no exemption, and warnings must still be given for those products containing any of the 13 chemicals listed by the state to cause birth defects.

Lastly, your editorial incorrectly and unfairly charges that the national food industry has attempted to "circumvent the law." To the contrary, the ICC 800 number system, as noted above, uses a method which is specifically mentioned in the regulations as a "safe harbor" warning method.

The ICC and the food producing, manufacturing, and distribution industries have been working constructively on this issue for three years and are more than willing to discuss our system of providing consumer warnings and complying with the complexities of Proposition 65.

NORMAN C. HILE

Counsel

Ingredient Communication Council

Sacramento

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