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California Regulates Cancer Warning on Coffee

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According to a recent Reuters’ article, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Elihu Berle has ruled that Californian coffee sellers must put a cancer warning label on its products.

In 2010, the Council for Education and Research on Toxics (CERT) sued approximately 90 major coffee suppliers, including Starbucks, due to a violation of California's law to disclose cancer causing chemicals. The chemical in question was acrylamide, which is a byproduct of roasting coffee beans and what gives coffee its brown color.

Per the case, the defendants lost the first phase of the trial, which was to show the level of acrylamide in coffee was below that which poses health concerns. During the second phase, the defendants failed to prove an acceptable alternative risk level for the chemical. Several of the defendants decided to settle the case and agreed to post signage and pay million in fines.

“Defendants failed to satisfy their burden of proving by a preponderance of evidence that consumption of coffee confers a benefit to human health,” said Berle, in his decision.