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California Calls for Warning Labels on Apples, Bananas
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SAN FRANCISCO, California - California Attorney General Bill Lockyer sued nine fruit growing giants Friday, saying the law requires them to tell the public that their products contain a toxic chemical. In a suit filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court, Lockyer sought a court order compelling the companies to place warnings on apples and bananas because they contain higher levels of arsenic than snack foods such as potato chips and french fries.

"A chain vegan is putting himself at significant risk."
-- California Attorney General Bill Lockyer
"I am not telling people to stop eating apples and bananas," Lockyer said in a statement. "I know from personal experience that, while these fruits can't hold a candle to chips, they sure taste good." But he pointed out that Proposition 65, a ballot initiative passed by voters in 1986, requires businesses of all types to provide the public with "clear and reasonable" warnings before exposing them to potentially dangerous substances.

"A little known fact is that apples contain arsenic," he explained, "And this is what we want the public to realize. Eating one or two of these foods a day might not be that dangerous, but a heavy eater of these fruits -- a chain vegan, as it were -- is putting himself or herself at significant risk." Lockyer's office is seeking an order from the courts to force the companies to place labels on their products explaining the dangers of fruit consumption.

"Of course, this concern about poison in fruit is entirely without merit," intoned Del Monte chairman and CEO Mohammad Abu-Ghazaleh, "For instance, it might interest the Attorney General to know that only apple seeds contain trace amounts of poison, and the poison they contain is cyanide, not arsenic. We don't encourage our consumers to eat pounds of apple seeds at a time -- which they would have to do to experience ill effects -- but up until Friday it hasn't been an issue. To my knowledge, no one has tried it."

Bananas do contain small amounts of arsenic; however it is what is known as "organic arsenic", occurring naturally in virtually all fruits and vegetables. The poison is not present in sufficient quantities to be considered a health concern.

"All I know is that the people of the state of California are being poisoned without their knowledge. They voted for a bill that was meant to protect them from that," said Lockyer, "And that's just what I intend to do."
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