A Judge ruled on Wednesday that coffee sellers in California must post warnings that coffee may pose a cancer risk.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Elihu Berle, gave this verdict after an eight-year legal battle between a small nonprofit group and the coffee industry, the Associated Press reported.
The Council for Education and Research on Toxics sued to force the industry to either remove a known carcinogen called acrylamide from coffee or to warn consumers about the chemical that is produced when coffee beans are roasted.
The industry contended that the level of acrylamide in coffee isn’t dangerous and that any risks are outweighed by benefits.
Berle said the coffee industry didn’t make a strong enough case. In his proposed ruling, Berle wrote;
“While plaintiff offered evidence that consumption of coffee increases the risk of harm to the fetus, to infants, to children and to adults, defendants’ medical and epidemiology experts testified that they had no opinion on causation.”
“Defendants failed to satisfy their burden of proving that consumption of coffee confers a benefit to human health,” he stated.
The defendants like Starbucks and 90 other companies, have a few weeks to challenge the ruling before it is final.
However, many coffee shops in California are already complying to the new ruling by posting warnings stating that acrylamide is cancer-causing chemical found in coffee, the AP reported.
The coffee companies have said it’s not possible to remove acrylamide from coffee without affecting taste, but the lawyer who led the lawsuit said that’s not true.
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“I firmly believe if the potato chip industry can do it, so can the coffee industry, a warning won’t be that effective because it’s an addictive product,” said Raphael Metzger.
Potato chip makers were forced to remove acrylamide after the Council for Education and Research on Toxics sued them years ago.
While there is no firm evidence on whether coffee is good or bad for you, the World Health Organization removed coffee from its “possible carcinogen” list in 2016,
There is not enough evidence to establish the link between coffee and dozens of other types of cancer.
According to the WHO, research shows that coffee is not likely to cause breast, prostate or pancreatic cancer, and it may lower the risk of liver and uterine cancers.