AHPA Legal Alert
Editor's Note: A recent ruling by a California judge would require coffee companies to display a Proposition 65 cancer warning due to the presence of trace amounts of acrylamide, a chemical created when coffee beans are roasted. The ruling was a result of a lawsuit filed by a California-based non-profit that has asked for fines as much as $2,500 for every person exposed to the chemical since 2002. The 91 defendants named in the lawsuit can file objections within two weeks of the ruling and the National Coffee Association said it is currently considering all legal options to oppose what it considers would be a "misleading" warning. The ruling sparked some critical press coverage that question the value of Prop 65 warnings that likely overload consumers with messages about risks that are not particularly relevant. The articles note that the acrylamide warning requirement is based on studies that dosed rodents at rates of 1,000 to 10,000 times higher than humans consume in food and that coffee has been well studied and proven to be a safe beverage that may even associated with a lower risk of certain types of cancer.

National Public Radio
March 30, 2018

Coffee companies in California must carry a cancer warning label because of a chemical produced while beans roast, a California judge tentatively ruled Wednesday.

The decision was the result of a lawsuit filed in 2008 by a California-based nonprofit called the Council for Education and Research on Toxics.

The lawsuit targets Starbucks and dozens of other coffee purveyors under the state's  Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act, which requires companies with more than 10 employees to warn their customers about the prevalence of carcinogenic and toxic chemicals in their products.

Acrylamide, a chemical compound that is produced naturally in the preparation of certain foods like the roasting of coffee beans, is on the  state's list of chemicals known to cause cancer or reproductive toxicity.

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