Roughly three decades ago, California's Proposition 65 came into being, and it's a proposition likely on the minds of many a processed meat producer this week. That's because Prop 65 forces the state to add any item known to up one's cancer risk to a list; products containing a listed item in an amount over a certain threshold must carry a "clear and reasonable warning." Should the state add processed meat to the list in the wake of the WHO report that found such meats can cause colorectal cancer, required labeling could follow. It isn't clear what sort of warnings would be required. The law states a suitable warning can include a note on packaging or a sign where a product is sold, for instance, per the Huffington Post.
But even if meat makes the list, "meats will never have to be labeled in the state of California," a consultant with the National Cattlemen's Beef Association tells Reuters. He argues a 2009 court ruling confirmed the federal government has control over labels for meat from plants inspected by the US Department of Agriculture. He adds California could attempt to overturn that ruling, but the North American Meat Institute "would wave the court of appeals decision. It'd be a stupid suit to even try to initiate because it's already been decided." Reuters clarifies that "f ederal law pre-empts warnings on fresh meat." How the law applies to processed meat "is less clear," per the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment . (The meat industry isn't buying the WHO report.)