March 25, 2015
TO: JPA Members
FROM: Patricia Faison
RE: JPA Regulatory Update: Beta-Myrcene Listed as Proposition 65 Carcinogen
JPA has been providing updates regarding plans by the California Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) to list beta-myrcene under Proposition 65 as a chemical known to the state to cause cancer. As you may recall, JPA joined a coalition led by the Flavor and Extract Manufacturers Association (FEMA) and comments were submitted to OEHHA opposing the listing of beta-myrcene under Proposition 65. Beta-myrcene is a constituent of a variety of natural essential oils and foods including citrus oils and juices.
In February 2014, JPA notified members that OEHHA had published a Notice of Intent to List beta-myrcene under Proposition 65. Of particular note, members were also advised that the Agency had stated beta-myrcene is a “natural constituent of food plants, such as hop, bay verbena, lemongrass, citrus, pomegranate, and carrot, and of their juice and essential oils…”
Yesterday, OEHHA published a notice, available here, adding beta-myrcene to the Proposition 65 list. The Agency did not establish a No Significant Risk Level (NSRL) also called a safe harbor level. According to OEHHA, if there is no safe harbor level for a chemical, firms that knowingly expose individuals to that chemical would generally be required to provide a Proposition 65 warning, unless the firm could show that risks of cancer or reproductive harm resulting from the exposure would be below levels specified in Proposition 65 and its regulations.
OEHHA also published responses to comments submitted to the Agency, which can be accessed here. JPA is listed on page 2 with other members of the beta-myrcene coalition. Of particular note, OEHHA stated that food products in which beta-myrcene occurs naturally would not require a warning. (Refer to page 18 for details.)
OEHHA earlier informed JPA staff of the following: “If the chemical is naturally-occurring in a food and is simply added to another food or consumer product, it retains its status as naturally-occurring and therefore does not require a warning.” For example, if citrus oil containing naturally-occurring beta-myrcene is added to a product, a warning would not be required. The addition of beta-myrcene to a food would not be considered “human activity” and thus, the food to which it is added would not be subject to the warning requirement. Although not stated by OEHHA in this notice, products containing the synthetic form of beta-myrcene would require a warning.
Please do not hesitate to contact me with questions or comments.
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