In the elections on November 6, residents in California, USA, will have the chance to vote on a proposal that could impact petfood labeling requirements in that state.
Proposition 37 is a labeling initiative aimed at providing consumers with information about "genetically engineered food," including petfood. The proposal would no longer allow any processed foods to be labeled as "natural," and retailers would be responsible for ensuring all processed foods containing any covered any covered material are identified as “Partially Produced with Genetic Engineering” or “May be Partially Produced with Genetic Engineering.” For any product not so labeled, the proposal would require “a retailer generally must be able to document why that product is exempt from labeling.”
According to the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council: "Not only does the proposal mandate far-reaching labeling requirements, it allows lawsuits by private parties to enforce the provisions, authorizing courts to award all costs incurred in investigating and prosecuting the action. Additionally, consumers could sue for violations under the state Consumer Legal Remedies Act, meaning consumers need not even demonstrate any injury to recover damages."
The Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council also says that processed foods, such as foods that have been canned, smoked, pressed, cooked, frozen, dehydrated, fermented or milled could no longer be labeled as natural. The group says the California Attorney General’s official summary states that “these restrictions [could] be interpreted by the courts to apply to [such processed foods] regardless of whether they are genetically engineered.”
If adopted, the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council says Proposition 37 would impose significant costs on California consumers, including pet owners, and would not be able to be changed if it is adopted because it is a ballot initiative. The group urges California pet owners and consumers to vote down Proposition 37. Those with questions about the proposal may contact Michael Maddox, of the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council, by calling +1.202.452.1525, ext. 106, or emailing Michael@pijac.org.