Too much coffee has always been warned as a potential caffeine hazard; however, the state of California might be forcing coffee shops to issue warnings about a potential cancer link to everyone’s favorite morning bevvy.
It turns out that acrylamide is produced during the coffee bean roasting process; a substance that is currently on the state’s list of chemicals that possibly cause cancer.
A not-for-profit organization, Council for Education and Research on Toxics, first launched a lawsuit at the LA County Superior Court eight years ago in 2010. The group focused on a number of organizations that sell or make coffee, including: BP, Starbucks, and 7-Eleven. The lawsuit accuses the companies of failing to offer clear and reasonable warnings around the fact that coffee can expose individuals to acrylamide.
The documents outline that under California’s 1986 Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act, sometimes referred to as Proposition 65, states organizations need to offer customers a reasonable and clear warning about the presence of items that can affect an individual’s health and that these companies have failed to do this.
CNN advised that the lawsuit is looking for fines and wants organizations to post acrylamide warnings with additional explanations around possible risks of consuming coffee. If the suit succeeds, signs would need to be posted clearly on walls or store counters where someone could read them prior to purchase.
The attorney representing the non-profit, Raphael Metzger, also wants coffee companies to decrease the amount of chemicals where a significant cancer risk would no longer be prevalent.
Last fall, during a bench trial, coffee organizations stated that the acrylamide level coffee has should be not be considered a risk under the law and that the benefits coffee has outweighs any risks.
Still, as per Metzger, a minimum of 13 defendants have decided to settle and agree to offer a warning, recently 7-Eleven being one of them. Should the other companies not settle and if the judge rules in the non-profit’s favor, they will be forced to follow suit. Metzger has stated that private mediation is set for this February 8th for those remaining companies listed in the suit.
In January 1990, the state included acrylamide to its carcinogen list and California has successfully taken organizations to court over this. In fact, California attorney general settled a suit against Lance Inc., Kettle Foods, Heinz, and Frito-Lay in 2008, when organizations agreed to decrease acrylamide levels found in French fries and potato chips. California fast food chains began posting acrylamide warnings regarding fries in 2007 and paid fines around not posting signage for previous years.