Superior Court in California, Judge Elihu Berle, issued on Thursday a tentative ruling that coffee must come with a cancer warning label. Berle’s ruling is based on California’s Proposition 65, which requires companies to warn customers when a product contains a chemical linked to cancer.
According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, a lawsuit brought forth against large companies, including Starbucks, 7 / 11, Whole Foods, and others for serving coffee which contains acrylamide without warning.
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Acrylamide is a natural by-product of the cooking process. It occurs when foods with high starch content such as bread, potatoes, and root vegetables are cooked at high temperatures (over 120°C) in a process of frying, roasting or baking.
Prop. 65 includes a list of chemicals that, when found in the product, must contain a warning. Acrylamide, which is found in cigarette smoke but can found in some starchy foods, after cooking, including coffee, is on this list.
“Defendants’ proffered evidence that coffee itself confers some benefit to human health was not persuasive,” said judge Berle.
Businesses in California that serve coffee will now provide “clear and reasonable” warnings about the possibility that acrylamide is linked to cancer,