Published: Fri, February 02, 2018
Health Care | By Oscar Goodwin

California Lawsuit Seeks to Label Coffee as Carcinogen

California Lawsuit Seeks to Label Coffee as Carcinogen

A lawsuit working its way through California's courts could mean that the Golden State's coffee shops might have to post cancer warnings for the beloved beverage.

While many coffee retailers (including 7-Eleven) have settled and agreed to both pay $2 million in penalties and other fees and provide a warning, Starbucks and other companies have resisted and are hopeful that a Los Angeles court will find that their coffees contain an adequately low level of acrylamide so as to not require a warning.

Coffee retailers have fought against the suit, arguing that the levels of acrylamide present in the beverage are not harmful, and that the health benefits of java outweigh its risks, CNN reports.

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Several companies have settled and agreed to put the warning labels on all ready to drink coffee including 7 Eleven, who did not return our calls for comment. A private mediation with some of the defendants is set for February 8, CNN reported. However, other studies have demonstrated the health benefits of coffee. The International Agency For Research on Cancer has classified the white odourless chemical a "probable human carcinogen".

The science on human exposure to acrylamide still needs "future studies", according to a 2014 review of scientific research on the chemical's relationship to a wide variety of cancers in the Journal of Nutrition and Cancer. Acrylamide is not added to our products, but results from cooking, such as when coffee beans are roasted or baked goods are baked.

Acrylamide is a chemical that's often linked to cooked foods, such as French fries, baked goods and breakfast cereals. California associates it with both cancer and developmental issues.

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The Food and Drug Administration website says it "is still in the information gathering stage" on the chemical, but the FDA gave consumers suggested ways to cut it out of their diet. Some businesses, according to numerous reports, say Prop 65 - with its list of hundreds of suspected carcinogens - has provided ammunition for lawyers to shake down companies for settlements.

The lawsuit argues that the companies did not offer "clear and reasonable warning" to inform customers that drinking coffee may expose them to acrylamide.

"We have a huge cancer epidemic in this country", said Raphael Metzger, the attorney representing the nonprofit. "To the extent that we can get carcinogens out of the food supply, logically, we can reduce the cancer burden in this country".

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