Costco's Bento Box Snack Mix Warning Label Has Fans Divided

You've likely spent a fair amount of time at the grocery store reading food labels, whether you're checking out the ingredients in your chips or the calorie count on your energy drink. In recent years, food labels have started to look different due to increased scrutiny by the Food and Drug Administration, which updated its nutrition facts requirements to help customers better monitor their food choices. Considering how many mistakes people make when reading food labels, the changes make sense.

While scanning food items for nutrition facts is important, those are not necessarily the most urgent pieces of information on the packaging. Perhaps the most pressing thing to look out for on your groceries is warning labels. A Costco customer on Reddit recently did just that, and the lead warning they found on the back of their bento box snack mix had them "worried" about eating the product.

Is this warning worrisome?

"The Bento Box snack mix is delicious, but I'm a little worried about the warning on the back," u/Branical posted on Reddit along with a photo of the back of the Costco product, sourced from SunTree Snack Foods. The warning label in question cautions that the item may expose consumers to chemicals "including but not limited to Lead which is known to the State of California to cause cancer and birth defects or other reproductive harm." It directs customers to California's Proposition 65 website, which explains the state's law requiring companies to print warnings on consumer products that could expose people to chemicals causing certain health issues. Prop 65 was created as a means to "protect residents from toxic water," reports Vox, but across years of litigation has resulted in warning labels on a vast range of products (including those that contain far less than the maximum recommended daily intake of potentially harmful chemicals).

It seems that because Proposition 65 warnings are so common on products in California, Reddit users were not too alarmed by the label on Costco's bento box snack mix. One user said, "It's from the seaweed. There's a lot of stuff out in the ocean and they can't guarantee no heavy metals," while another replied, "That warning applies to literally everything and has to be placed on most products." A different user said the warning was "nothing to worry about unless you eat a whole bag a week." The warning label on Costco's snack mix — and other products — leaves it up to individual consumers to make decisions about their food items. To learn more about potential lead contamination in your food, read the Proposition 65 website.