Judge To Hear Closing Arguments in Mercury-Labeling Suit
Lawyers on Friday will present closing arguments in a case that seeks to force canners to warn consumers about the risks of mercury in tuna fish, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
The case claims that canners for StarKist, Chicken of the Sea and Bumble Bee violate Proposition 65 by not telling consumers about mercury in tuna. Mercury is a potent neurotoxin and has been associated with growth and reproductive problems (Kay, San Francisco Chronicle, 3/22).
Proposition 65, which California residents approved in 1986, requires warning labels on products containing chemicals that have been shown to cause cancer or birth defects (California Healthline, 3/8).
The state, which joined the lawsuit in 2004, wants the companies to place informational signs in the aisles of supermarkets or issue other advisories about the risks of consuming tuna.
The companies argue that mercury occurs naturally in the ocean and is therefore beyond the scope of Proposition 65. They also claim that the warning labels the state seeks would conflict with FDA advisories on mercury in seafood, noting that federal law preempts state law in such matters.
The judge in the case could issue a decision in the coming weeks (Kay, San Francisco Chronicle, 3/22).