The state may be slow-rolling a listing required by Proposition 65 as an ever-growing mountain of evidence shows a conclusive link between consuming even a small amount of processed meat and an increased risk of multiple cancers.

Under Proposition 65, passed by California voters in 1986, the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) is tasked with listing chemicals that are carcinogenic so consumers can make informed decisions. Over the last two years, as evidence has mounted linking processed meat to cancer, Social Compassion in Legislation and the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine have repeatedly requested that OEHHA perform its duty, required by law, to list processed meat as a known carcinogen – giving consumers the right to make their own decisions.

To date, this has not occurred.

See below for a letter mailed to OEHHA on April 22, 2019.

Dear Dr. Zeise and Mr. Hirsch:
We are contacting you once again to request that your office comply with its requirement under Proposition 65 to list processed meat as a human carcinogen. The people of California declared that they had a right to be informed about the exposure to chemicals or substances that cause cancer, birth defects, or other reproductive harm. Based on current scientific information, chemicals are added or removed from the official list required by Proposition 65 and made available to the public. Substances on the list include, but are not limited to, those identified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) as human or animal carcinogens.
The IARC published volume 114 of its monographs on the evaluation of carcinogenic risks to humans on March 29, 2018. The monograph evaluated the carcinogenicity of processed meat and concluded, “Consumption of processed meat is carcinogenic to humans (Group 1).” Group 1 is IARC’s highest evidence classification for carcinogenicity. Social Compassion in Legislation, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, and our members care about the health of all Californians and believe they have a right to be informed as soon as possible of the harmful effects of processed meat, as defined in the monograph.
While we do understand that your office must take the appropriate time to thoroughly review volume 114 of the IARC monograph, it has now been over a year since its publication. It is our understanding that previous listings occurred between 5 and 7 months after the publication of the relevant IARC monograph. We’re wondering why this particular listing is taking double, if not triple the usual time. We are wondering if there may be political influences that could be stalling the process.
A new study [1]  released this week shows that just one slice of bacon per day increases a person’s risk of colorectal cancer by 20%. Californians may make a choice to consume this carcinogenic product anyway – that is their right – but they deserve to know the truth, and it is your office’s responsibility to provide that information in the form of a Proposition 65 listing.
The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine or Social Compassion in Legislation contacted your office regarding the OEHHA review process on the following dates:
  • May 22, 2017
  • July 31, 2017
  • August 4, 2017
  • April 2, 2018
  • August 9, 2018
  • March 5, 2019
In addition, OEHHA received a letter from then-State Senator Ricardo Lara on this matter on June 8, 2018.
OEHHA has consistently said it is evaluating this matter and needs more time. Each day that passes, Californians are exposed to a substance that leading researchers agree causes cancer without receiving the warnings your office is required by law to provide.
Again, we respectfully request the timetable under which the required listing of processed meat under Proposition 65 will take place, so that Californians can make an informed decision about their health. 
Thank you for your prompt attention to this urgent matter.
With gratitude,
Judie Mancuso, Founder/President
Social Compassion In Legislation (SCIL)
Dr. Neal Barnard, M.D.
Founder and President

Social Compassion in Legislation