Coffee in California to Be Paired With Cancer Warnings

May 21, 2018

Starbucks Corp. and other roasters and retailers must serve up a cancer warning with coffee sold in California, a Los Angeles judge has ruled.

Superior Court Judge Elihu Berle in a ruling published in early May said that Starbucks and other coffee sellers did not show that the risk from consuming acrylamide, a possible cancer-causing byproduct created during coffee roasting, was offset by benefits from drinking coffee.

That ruling confirmed Berle’s tentative decision on the matter in March.

The Council for Education and Research on Toxics, a nonprofit group, sued some 90 coffee retailers, including Starbucks, on grounds they were violating a California law requiring companies to warn consumers of chemicals in their products that could cause cancer.

The latest ruling in the eight-year legal battle opens a path for CERT to ask for a permanent injunction that would require coffee sellers to warn consumers about the cancer risk associated with acrylamide.

Many California coffee sellers, including Starbucks, already post signs with such warnings under the state’s Proposition 65 law requiring businesses to provide warnings about significant exposures to chemicals that cause cancer, birth defects or other reproductive harm.

Several defendants in the case have already settled, agreeing to post warning signs and pay millions in fines.

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