Agency Rule Eliminates Cancer Warnings on Coffee

The new decision means that California retailers can stop putting warning labels on coffee starting in October.

June 05, 2019

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Californians can soon drink coffee without warning labels, the Wall Street Journal reports. Last year, a judge mandated that cancer warning labels be affixed to coffee due to the potential carcinogenic chemical acrylamide. However, the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment’s report found that consuming coffee isn’t a significant risk for cancer.

As a result of that report, the coffee exemption to Proposition 65—a state law requiring that products with the chemical have warning labels—has been finalized, with the effective date of Oct. 1.

The upheaval over coffee began in 2010 with a lawsuit by the Council for Education and Research on Toxics (CERT) that said coffee required the warning labels. In 2018, the lawsuit finally hit the court room of Judge Elihu Berle, who ruled that cancer warnings should be put on coffee products.

CERT attorneys indicated they would challenge the exemption in court. William Murray, president and CEO of the National Coffee Association, said the approved rule means “coffee drinkers around the world can wake up and enjoy the smell and taste of their coffee without hesitation.”

Averaging $40,252 in annual sales per store, according to recently released NACS State of the Industry data, coffee drove the lion’s share of sales volume (71.5%) for the hot dispensed beverage category in the convenience industry in 2018. For more on the hot dispensed beverages and performance metrics on other profit-generating categories, purchase the NACS State of the Industry Report of 2018 Data today.