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California cancer ruling means coffee brands like Starbucks need to print health warnings


By John McCarthy | Media editor

March 31, 2018 | 3 min read

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Leading coffee brands like Starbucks have been hit with a California ruling requiring them to inform consumers their brew of choice contains trace amounts of carcinogens in the state.

Cancer coffee

Coffee brands will have to print health warnings

Acrylamide, a chemical found in processed food, has invoked the ire of lobby group, the Council for Education and Research on Toxics which has previously sued companies using the product.

The case was brought by this group in Los Angeles on Wednesday, with Starbucks and 90 other companies having to defend the inclusion of Acrylamide in their products.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Elihu Berle said: "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 ... that consumption of coffee confers a benefit to human health."

The coffee companies said the removal of the chemical would ruin the taste. The potato chip industry, under pressure from the same group had previously removed the chemical however.

Under California's The Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act brands are required to print labels informing the public of ingredients that can cause cancer or birth defects. Further to this, consumers and private groups are empowered to sue companies that fail to adhere to this law.

William Murray, president and chief executive of the National Coffee Association which led the defense said: "This lawsuit has made a mockery of Prop. 65, has confused consumers, and does nothing to improve public health."

It comes after the World Health Organization (WHO) put coffee on the lift of 'possible carcinogens' in 2016, muddying the waters around this supposed health food.

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