California judge rules coffee beverages must be labeled with cancer warnings
Coffee sellers are considering how to appeal a California judge’s ruling requiring coffee sellers to label their products informing people of the health risks associated with acrylamide. The ruling was brought on by a lawsuit filed in 2010 by the Council for Education and Research on Toxics, who accused big name coffee makers of failing to warn consumers about the dangers of ingesting acrylamide. This chemical is formed when coffee beans are roasted, and is known to be a cancer-causing compound.
Acrylamide has been considered harmful by professionals since the 90s, and the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1968 requires all businesses to provide warning labels when exposing it to their customers. The ruling was passed down by Judge Elihu M. Berle in Los Angeles County Superior Court, who decided that coffee companies do not provide appropriate labels warning people about the dangers of acylamide.
In a written decision, the judge wrote “Since defendants failed to prove that coffee confers any human health benefits, defendants have failed to satisfy their burden of proving that sound considerations of public health support an alternate risk level for acrylamide in coffee.”
The decision was heavily disputed by coffee sellers, with the National Coffee Association making a statement saying they are “currently considering all of its options, including potential appeals and further legal actions.” The National Coffee Association counts companies like Dunkin’ Donuts and Starbucks among its members.
William Murray, the chief executive of the coffee association wrote that “Coffee is much more than acrylamide — it literally contains hundreds of substances, and is one of the most heavily studied foods of all time.” He went on to state that putting labels on coffee would become “simply confusing and misleading” referring to statements from the World Health Organization that the drink does not cause cancer and can even lead to numerous health benefits.
It is true that coffee is one of the most well researched beverages of all time? Studies have shown that the drink can lead to longevity, reduce the risk of heart disease, multiple sclerosis, Type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and even certain cancers. The study of acrylamide has been determined as needing “future studies” as scientists don’t know the extent of the damage it can do to the human body. It can however be found in other foods, including potatoes, bread, breakfast cereal, canned black olives, and cookies. The presence of the chemical is not always labeled on these items either.
The studies claiming acrylamide causes cancer include tests done on lab rodents, where doses of the chemical measured in excess of “1,000 to 100,000 times higher than the usual amount” humans would be consuming by drinking coffee or consuming any of the aforementioned products.
The defendants of the lawsuit have a few weeks to challenge the ruling before it becomes final, with exploring relief in an appellate court being the next most likely step. If the ruling stands, coffee sellers could face stiff financial penalties if not followed.