Coffee sold in California may soon come with a cancer warning

  • Najja Parker, Atlanta Journal-Constitution
4:30 p.m Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2018 Things to Do in Atlanta

Many people start each day with a fresh brew of coffee, but that cup of joe may soon come with a cancer warning in California. 

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Within the next year, a state judge could order several corporations to add acrylamide warning labels to coffee, CNN reports. Arcylamide, a chemical created when coffee beans are roasted, has been linked to cancer.

In 2010, the Council for Education and Research on Toxics filed a lawsuit against several companies, including Starbucks, BP and 7-Eleven, alleging the defendants do not clearly display the dangers of acrylamide exposure to buyers when they consume java. 

According to the court documents, the nonprofit organization refers to the California Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986, which states businesses must give patrons clear warnings about agents that could affect their health.

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The group is proposing that offenders pay a fine and clearly post warnings on store counters and walls, so people can easily spot them. It also wants retailers to reduce the amount of chemicals in the products to eliminate the risk of cancer altogether.

While 13 of the defendants, including 7-Eleven, have already settled out of court and agreed to issue warnings, the other nine retailers will meet for private mediations next month, according CNN. If the parties do not come to an agreement, the judge will make a decision. 

Previous reports show that coffee can increase the possibility of several cancers, such as ovarian, renal and endometrial. However, other studies have demonstrated the health benefits of coffee. It has been associated with lowering the risk of death from digestive, circulatory and cerebrovascular diseases among other illnesses.

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As for acrylamide, the National Toxicology Program's Report on Carcinogens says it’s a human carcinogen, and the Food and Drug Administration has suggested ways for folks to cut it out of their diets while they still gather information about the compound. 

This isn’t the first time companies have been sued over acrymalide, which was added to California’s carcinogen list in 1990. In 2008, the California attorney general settled suits against Heinz and Frito-Lay when the brands agreed to decrease the levels of the chemical found in chips. 

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Starbucks, BP and the other retailers of the latest case will face the Council for Education and Research on Toxics on Feb. 8.