Protein bars made by No Cow contain lead and toxic PFAS, lawsuit alleges

<span>The filings allege No Cow is violating California’s Proposition 65 law.</span><span>Photograph: No Cow, Guardian Design</span>
The filings allege No Cow is violating California’s Proposition 65 law.Photograph: No Cow, Guardian Design

A wide range of No Cow protein bars are contaminated with lead and toxic “forever chemicals”, recent filings with the California department of justice charges.

The filings, made by the Environmental Research Center (ERC), a San Diego-based consumer protection non-profit, states that its testing found PFOA, a dangerous PFAS compound, and lead in eight flavors of No Cow bars.

No Cow did not respond to a request for comment, and the ERC declined to discuss the filings because the case is ongoing.

The filings allege that No Cow is violating California’s Proposition 65 law, which, among other provisions, requires companies to alert consumers when toxic chemicals are used in goods.

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No Cow has been in violation of the law since the company introduced the bars in 2021, the filing claims, and will remain so “until clear and reasonable warnings are provided to product purchasers and users or until this known toxic chemical is either removed from or reduced to allowable levels in the products”.

PFAS are a class of about 15,000 compounds typically used to make products resistant to water, stains and heat. They are called “forever chemicals” because they do not naturally break down, and are linked to cancer, kidney disease, liver problems, immune disorders, birth defects and other serious health problems.

Food is thought to be one of the main exposure routes for PFAS, and the Food and Drug Administration has received intense criticism from public health advocates who charge the agency is not doing enough to protect public health. The ERC last year made a similar filing over KOS protein products, and a class-action suit alleged some Simply Tropical products were contaminated with PFAS.

No Cow, which is distributed at Target, Walmart, Kroger and other national chains, produces a range of protein and health products.

The filings do not provide lead and PFOA levels, but the Environmental Protection Agency states that virtually no level of exposure to either substance in drinking water is safe, while no level of exposure to lead through any route is safe.

The fillings demand that No Cow recall the eight protein bars and reformulate them so they don’t contain the chemicals. If they are not reformulated, then No Cow should affix a warning to the label, the filing states. It also calls for civil penalties.

No Cow and the state of California have 60 days to respond and take action from the dates of filings, which were made in late April for PFOA and early June for lead. If they do not, then ERC can file a lawsuit and ask a judge to order the company to comply with Proposition 65.