Prop 65

CALIFORNIA’S Proposition 65 requires the warning you now see on our label for shipments to California.


Californian law requires us to put this notice on our product, if we have any ingredient that tests over 1/1000th of what the World Health Organization terms as “Safe Harbor Levels” of a huge list of chemicals, including naturally occurring minerals.

Our Organic Cocoa for example is extremely nutrient dense and contains naturally occurring minerals including minute traces of lead. This is common for all natural foods grown on clean soils.

Our STRONG COFFEE gets tested EVERY batch for lead and other minerals. We pass with flying colors, and test consistently at exactly 2.6mcg/kg, or about 2.6 MICRO grams per 10 gram serving. This is well within safe limits with the FDA.

This is 5/1000th of the World Health Organization’s “Safe Harbour” amount, and, since it is over 1/1000th, we have to put the warning on shipments to Californian customers due to Prop 65.

The lead in our product is a trace amount, and naturally occurring. To put this in perspective: the amount of lead contained in a serving of our STRONG COFFEE products are below the naturally occurring lead found in plant foods. The USDA recommended 3-5 servings of vegetables daily could easily contain up to ten times more lead than the maximum allowed by California prop 65.

Here are two examples that should put this in perspective:

Natural green beans contain 28.75 micrograms of lead in a one cup serving, which is an exposure of approximately 50 times the allowed Prop 65 levels. This is 10 times the amount of lead in a serving of STRONG COFFEE.

Natural spinach contains approximately 5.2 micrograms of lead in a typical adult serving size which is an exposure that exceeds Prop 65 levels by 10 times. This is double the amount of lead in a serving of STRONG COFFEE.

If you were to have a serving of green beans, a serving of spinach, and a serving of brussels sprouts in a day (all grown on natural, clean soils) you could be taking in 80 times the Prop 65 limit and 16 times the amount of lead in a serving of STRONG COFFEE.

Now, we don't have to put the warning on shipments anywhere else in the WORLD as the FDA, Europe, and Australasian safe tolerance level for lead (ie, you must be below this level to sell as a food or supplement), is well over our lead level, and no other state, or country, has this rule like California.

In short, Prop 65 has been criticized heavily at that 1/1000th notification requirement.

However we must comply with the law, so until the Prop 65 legislation changes, our warning sticker is here to stay.

We have included some frequently asked questions and more information below.

What is the California Proposition 65 “warning”?

In California it’s a law known as the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act. It’s also referred to as Proposition 65 and for short: Prop 65.

CALIFORNIA’S Proposition 65 requires the warning you now see on our label.



Prop 65 limits for for lead are so low, almost all foods contain amounts higher than allowed:

24 Times Higher: Mixed nuts, no peanuts, roasted 10.2 mcg, Liver, beef, fried 9.0 mcg

16 Times Higher: Brussels sprouts, fresh, boiled 7.9 mcg, Sweet potato, fresh, baked 7.2 mcg ,Spinach, boiled 7.0 mcg

8 Times Higher: Avocado, raw 4.5 mcg , Honey 4.5 mcg, Watermelon, raw 4.5 mcg, Cucumber, Raw 3.4 mcg, Peach, raw 3.4 mcg, Apple, red, raw 2.6 mcg

More about the California Proposition 65 warning:

Prop 65 requires products sold in California to bear warnings about potential exposure to any of the substances listed by the state of California. This notice does not apply to any other state in the Union. To put this notice in perspective, the value of lead contained in STRONG COFFEE products is well within the range and below the mean value of naturally occurring lead levels found in plants growing in non-contaminated soils. A person eating the USDA recommended 3-5 servings of vegetables daily could consume up to ten times more lead than the stringent Prop 65 warning as required by California.

What kinds of food are affected?

Almost all foods contain some level of one or more of the substances recognized by the State of California. In most cases, the exposure levels established by Prop 65 are less than what occurs naturally in fruits, vegetables, and even drinking water. The Proposition 65 exposure standards are so strict that certain natural foods such as yams, turnips, apples, tomatoes, artichokes, carrots, cucumbers, green beans, lettuce, spinach, and potatoes, provide exposures in excess of Prop 65 limits. However, food producers are not required to provide Prop 65 notices.

How does this affect STRONG COFFEE Products?

Any amount of chemicals listed by the State of California found in STRONG COFFEE occur as a result of the natural state of the ingredients in the products.

Prop 65 states that no warning is required when the listed substance occurs naturally in a food product, and not as the result of “known human activity.” However, the State of California has never issued clear guidelines on how this exception applies to the health supplement industry. Even when the ingredient is natural, and placed into a supplement, we enter the Prop 65 notification requirement.

It is generally understood that lead and other substances occur naturally in the environment and are found in trace amounts in naturally occurring ingredients, including those ingredients used to make dietary supplements. However, to claim this naturally occurring exception to Prop 65 (i.e.: to not post the labels on products) usually lands the claimant in an expensive, time consuming, and business destroying legal proceeding.

Should I be worried about consuming STRONG COFFEE or other natural products?

Proteins, plants, and minerals all are well-known to contain substances that exceed those allowed exposures on the Prop 65 list. Naturally grown plants absorb metals and other trace chemicals from the soil in which they are grown. For example, Prop 65 sets a safe harbour limit of 0.5 mcg of lead per serving, but this limit is far below the amount of lead naturally found in many fruits and vegetables grown on clean, non-contaminated soils. In 2009 the State of California conducted its own food crop soil-lead-uptake analysis (Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment 129:212-220), and California’s experts found that the most commonly consumed vegetables (from 70 different locations), averaged nearly four times the Prop 65 lead limit per serving.

When compared with the Prop 65 standards, each serving of potatoes, lettuce, wheat, carrots and many other vegetables would require a lead warning.

Remember that Prop 65 regulates exposures, not concentrations and not actual harm or injury. Natural proteins, for example, naturally have high levels of lead. Any process to remove the lead would destroy the protein. All STRONG COFFEE products fall within FDA suggested guidelines for any/all of the chemicals listed by Prop 65 and can be safely consumed.

Why does STRONG COFFEE put warnings on their labels?

STRONG COFFEE prefers to comply with the Prop 65 warning label requirements, as a business decision, in order to avoid expensive, time-consuming, and business destroying litigation over Prop 65 compliance. We believe all our products should be exempted under the “naturally occurring allowance” exception. However, until this exception is more clearly delineated by the Courts and the State of California, all STRONG COFFEE products will comply with the notice requirements.

STRONG COFFEE believes that the limit for lead mandated by California Proposition 65 as reproductive toxicant is unduly strict when taking into consideration lead limits of other recognized government agencies such as FDA, EPA, USDA etc. The California Agency responsible for administering Proposition 65, Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (“OEHHA”) has developed safe harbor levels. A business has “safe harbor” from Proposition 65 warning requirements if exposure to a chemical occurs at or below these levels. These safe harbor level, Maximum Allowable Dose Level (“MADL”) for lead as causing birth defects or other reproductive harm is 5 parts per million.

According to the website of the OEHHA ( the criteria used by the State of California to determine the MADL for reproductive toxicants:

“For chemicals that are listed as causing birth defects or reproductive harm, the “no observable effect level” is determined by identifying the level of exposure that has been shown to not pose any harm to humans or laboratory animals. Proposition 65 then requires this “no observable effect level” to be divided by 1,000 in order to provide an ample margin of safety. Businesses subject to Proposition 65 are required to provide a warning if they cause exposures to chemicals listed as causing birth defects or reproductive harm that exceed 1/lOOOth of the “no observable effect level.”

STRONG COFFEEs understanding is that the use of a factor of 1/1,000th is no longer, if it ever was, scientifically defensible. According to many knowledgeable experts the factor should be much higher than 1/1OOth. The required use of the 1/1,000th factor is a provision in California’s Proposition 65. Many experts believe that the 1/1OOOth factor is no longer defensible in view of advancing science on the subject. However, because Proposition 65 was passed by the voters in California, the 1/1OOOth factor can only be changed by a two-thirds vote of the California legislature and such a vote is extremely unlikely.

STRONG COFFEE believes that the lead in its products is “naturally occurring.” Proposition 65 allows for subtracting out natural background levels of lead from the total level of lead but only that portion that is not added by “human activity.”

We comply with the law, and until any legislative changes occur, we will continue to place Prop 65 Warnings on relevant products sold to or in the State of California.