Coffee vendors in the state of California found themselves at the losing end of a lawsuit recently. Nonprofit group The Council for Education and Research on Toxics filed a suit in 2010 against Starbucks as well as other coffee vendors stating they believe they have violated a state law due to a lack of clear and reasonable warnings on their products.
When coffee beans are roasted it causes them to produce and contain a chemical called acrylamide. Acrylamide, in numerous lab studies, proved to increase the risk of cancer in laboratory animals. The Council for Education and Research on Toxics used a law called Proposition 65, California’s Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986 to file their suit against Starbucks and other coffee vendors. The law requires that all businesses in the state of California inform their customers of any possible exposure to chemicals or other products that can cause either cancer or birth defects. The nonprofit group believes that coffee vendors in the state have violated this law because their product does not come with any warning making it clear to customers that there is a risk in the product.
The National Coffee Association was quick to release a statement following the court case stating that they are considering more appeals because they believe that warning labels would be rather misleading. It has been proven time and time again that coffee has health benefits, and is not dangerous. The National Coffee Association goes on to discuss that they believe that the entire lawsuit has only succeeded in confusing consumers, it will do nothing for public health, and it makes a mockery of Proposition 65. In the defense of coffee chains, it is rather important to note that The World Health Organization removed coffee from their list of known carcinogens in 2016 and even went on to state that consuming coffee regularly may actually be beneficial because it is known to reduce the risk of some chronic diseases as well as reduce the risk of liver cancer.
The judge has not yet decided civil penalties against coffee vendors in the state, and he did issue his decision as a proposed ruling which allows him to change his mind in the future should he so choose. For more information on this topic, head to the Huffington Post.