So, There's A Cancer Warning On Taco Bell's Website

Taco Bell is not blinkered to the fact that fast food chains typically have a reputation for being unhealthy, which is why it is committed to improving its nutrition through measures including restricting trans fats, reducing salt by 25%, and capping the number of calories and sugar in its drinks. However, even though Taco Bell seems to consider the health of its customers, its products come with an alarming health warning.

At the bottom of Taco Bell's website is an alert that food and drinks sold by the company may expose customers to potentially harmful chemicals, including acrylamide in fried food and mercury in fish. The alarming message is a requirement laid down by authorities in California under a regulation known as Proposition 65, which advises that these chemicals could cause cancer and birth defects. But what exactly does the rule require companies to do, and how risky are the chemicals in Taco Bell's products?

California requires warnings for hundreds of dangerous chemicals

The official name of Proposition 65 is the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act, introduced in California in 1986. The law instructs companies to tell customers about chemicals that may cause cancer, birth defects, or other reproductive problems. More than 900 chemicals are included.

Taco Bell acknowledges there may be mercury in its fish items and acrylamide in anything that's fried or baked, but how great are the risks? Not very, it would seem. Mercury should be particularly avoided during pregnancy, explains the FDA, but the majority of fish species are safe to eat. Fish with the highest mercury levels that should be avoided are bigeye tuna, swordfish, shark, king mackerel, marlin, orange roughy, and tilefish. Acrylamide is formed during high-temperature cooking, and has been linked to causing cancer in animals (albeit at higher levels than are present in human food, the FDA confirms).

Two chemicals found to exist in Taco Bell packaging that are not included under Proposition 65 are per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). These chemicals, according to Consumer Reports, are linked to causing some cancers, lower birth weight, and suppressed immune systems, and have been recorded in high levels in Taco Bell chip bags. Taco Bell pledges to remove PFAS from its packaging by 2025.