Californians Gotta Have Their Java (and Warning Labels About Associated Cancer Risk)


In 2010, a non-profit group called the Council for Education and Research on Toxics launched a suit against 90 coffee companies, stating they should label their product for containing the chemical acrylamide, a known carcinogen. They just won. I’m glad I had a cup of coffee before reading this news.

Acrylamide is a natural byproduct of the roasting process, according to The Guardian, and coffee companies maintain that the levels of it found in their delicious beans are harmless. But they could not actually prove that sufficiently for superior court Judge Elihu Berle, who ruled on Monday that coffee in California must now carry a cancer warning under the state’s law demanding health labels (or find another way to roast their beans):

The final ruling clears the way for the Council for Education and Research on Toxics to seek a permanent injunction that would either lead to ominous warning labels or a commitment by the industry to remove the chemical from their product – as the potato chip industry did years ago when sued by the same group.

The companies have an opportunity to mediate with the non-profit and reach some sort of settlement. If they can’t, the trial could be extended over civil penalties. Their attorney, Raphael Metzger, says that could mean a pay-out of “$2,500 per person exposed each day since the suit was filed in 2010.”

Now that’s a jolt. Knowing coffee contains a carcinogen won’t stop me from drinking it, but I would deeply resent being reminded of that fact every single morning before I’ve even gotten my java. Poor California.

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