California Judge Decides Coffee Must Have Cancer Warning

In the Golden State, any coffee must have a cancer warning label because brewing the beverage produces a carcinogen.

April 02, 2018

LOS ANGELES – Despite numerous health claims, a California judge ruled that coffee in the state must carry a warning that brewing and consuming it could lead to cancer, the Washington Post reports. The Council for Education and Research on Toxics had sued Peets, Starbucks and approximately 90 other businesses because they sold coffee in violation of a California rule that required companies with 10 or more workers to disclose the presence of toxic chemicals and carcinogens. Coffee contains acrylamide, one of those chemicals.

Superior Court Judge Elihu Berle agreed with the nonprofit, writing that, “while plaintiff offered evidence that consumption of coffee increases the risk of harm to the fetus, to infants, to children and to adults, defendants’ medical and epidemiology experts testified that they had no opinion on causation. … Defendants failed to satisfy their burden of proving by a preponderance of evidence that consumption of coffee confers a benefit to human health.”

Meanwhile, studies have shown that coffee is unlikely to trigger pancreatic, prostate or breast cancer, while appearing to lower the risks for uterine and liver cancers, according to an Associated Press article.

Many coffee businesses and retailers in California already post warnings identifying that coffee has acrylamide, which is among the chemicals found to cause cancer. The case had been ongoing for eight years, and a third phase will decide what the companies must pay in the way of civil penalties.