California Requires New Cookware Chemical Labeling Requirements by January 1st
Cookware sold in California will be required to have chemical ingredient information disclosed on the product website by the new year. While part of a wave of legislation focused on per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (“PFAS”), the California Safer Food Packaging & Cookware Act of 2021, which was signed into law by Governor Newsom in October 2021, requires cookware manufacturers to disclose the presence of thousands of chemicals in their products, starting on January 1, 2023. The legislation also restricts the types of “chemical-free” claims that companies can make in promoting their cookware products.
The Act creates two new requirements for cookware manufacturers. First, they must disclose the presence of “hazardous chemicals,” including PFAS, bisphenol A (“BPA”), and over 3,000 other substances included on the California Department of Toxic Substances (“DTSC”) Candidate Chemical list. The Act applies to cookware manufacturers “whose name appears on the product label, or person who the cookware is manufactured for or distributed by (as identified by the product label).” “Cookware” includes “durable houseware items that are used in homes and restaurants to prepare, dispense, or store food, foodstuffs, or beverages. ‘Cookware’ includes pots, pans, skillets, grills, baking sheets, baking molds, trays, bowls, and cooking utensils.”
By January 1, 2023, cookware manufacturers must post on the internet website for the cookware product: (1) a list of all chemicals “intentionally added” to the cookware (i.e., chemicals that have a functional or technical effect in the product) that are also present on the DTSC Candidate Chemical list; (2) the names of the authoritative list or lists referenced by the DTSC; and (3) a link to the internet website for the authoritative list or lists.
By January 1, 2024, similar information must be disclosed on the product packaging, as well as third party retail websites where the product is sold. There is an exception to the on-product disclosure requirement if the surface area of the cookware cannot fit a product label of at least two square inches and the cookware does not have either (1) an exterior container or wrapper on which a product label can appear or be affixed; or (2) a tag or other attachment with information about the product attached to the cookware.
Second, the Act prohibits manufacturers from advertising that a product is “free” of a chemical when other chemicals from the same chemical class are present. For example, a pan labeled as “PFOA-free” would be non-compliant if it contains other PFAS, such as PTFE. While this is primarily targeted at PFAS claims, the ramifications extend to other classes of chemicals (such as phthalates).
Cookware manufacturers should promptly review the ingredients in their products to determine if any appear on the DTSC list and, if so, prepare the required website disclosure. Given the extent of the chemical list, it is likely that many cookware products will be subject to the disclosure requirements.