A California judge has recently ruled that all the coffee companies, including Starbucks, in California must carry warning labels because of a cancerous ingredient released during the bean roasting process!
The ruling, made by Superior Court Judge Elihu Berle, said that coffee sellers had failed to put forward a convincing case for the health benefits of coffee over the potential risks of drinking it. Hence, coffee sold in California must now carry a cancer warning.
Ninety firms selling coffee were sued in 2010 by non-profit group Council for Education and Research on Toxins over lack of warning labels for cancerous ingredients in coffee.
The main cancer-causing ingredient in question is acrylamide, which is classified as a carcinogen under state law. One of the 90 firms being sued is Starbucks, the biggest coffee house chain in the world.
Coffee selling firms have argued that coffee is actually beneficial for the body. This has been proven by past research as coffee leads to lower risk of depression and also improves cognitive function.
Firms have also claimed that the cancerous chemical that is present in coffee is in very negligible amounts such that it is harmless to the consumer. Moreover, coffee was even removed from the list of possible carcinogens by the UN World Health Organization in 2016.
The National Coffee Association is considering an appeal to the ruling. They issued a statement which said that ‘cancer warning labels on coffee would be misleading’ since the US government’s own Dietary Guidelines do not consider it unhealthy and state that ‘coffee can be part of a healthy lifestyle’.
According to BBC, acrylamide has been proven by research studies to cause tumors in animals, due to exposure to high doses. Based on this research, WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer classified acrylamide as a carcinogen and said that it could potentially have a cancerous effect on humans aswell.
However, according to research the exposure levels which would lead to such detrimental effects are currently not even close to those that the average coffee consumer is exposed to.
USA Today reported that almost 12 of the companies being sued have settled and agreed to put warning labels, according to Attorney Raphael Metzger. 7-Eleven is the latest to join this list. They have also agreed to pay $900,000 in fines.
Comedian Brendan Schaub joked on Twitter about how he did not believe that coffee is cancerous and called for people to continue drinking it.
Researcher, author and contributor to NY Times, Aaron E. Carroll also posted an angry GIF on Twitter to show his frustration over the news.
Other users spoke pointed out that the chemical under question is present in other consumer products as well.
The National Coffee Association has till April 10 to file an appeal to the ruling.