On October 17, California Attorney General Rob Bonta issued an Enforcement Advisory Letter indicating that the Attorney General’s office intends to bring enforcement actions against companies that fail to comply with California’s new law restricting the use of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in food packaging and requiring disclosure and labeling when PFAS are used in cookware products.
The California law, known as Assembly Bill 1200 (A.B. 1200), went into effect on January 1, 2023. The law prohibits businesses, including shops and restaurants selling take-out food, from distributing, selling, or offering for sale any “food packaging” that contains PFAS. “Food packaging” is broadly defined and includes take-out food containers, unit product boxes, liners, wrappers, serving vessels, eating utensils, straws, food boxes, and disposable plates, bowls, or trays. The law also requires disclosure and labeling when PFAS are intentionally included in any “cookware” product that comes into contact with food or beverages. “Cookware” includes pots, pans, skillets, grills, baking sheets, baking molds, trays, bowls, and cooking utensils.
The labeling provisions of A.B. 1200 require manufacturers of cookware to include specific information on the labels of their products and alerts on their websites to inform consumers when their products contain certain chemicals, including PFAS. A.B. 1200 also prohibits the use of “Chemical Free” claims unless the manufacturer did not intentionally add PFAS, or other specified chemicals, to their product.
Attorney General Bonta urged companies to assess their food packaging and cookware products and to ensure that they are complying with the requirements of A.B. 1200. Further, Attorney General Bonta warned companies that they should be aware that, if they fail to comply, they may be subject to enforcement actions. Attorney General Bonta reiterated that California is prioritizing enforcement of A.B. 1200 in an attempt to limit Californians’ exposure to PFAS through their food.
A.B. 1200 and Attorney General Bonta’s Enforcement Advisory Letter continue an ongoing trend of growing state regulation of PFAS and an increased focus on regulating the use of PFAS by manufacturers of consumer products.