LA court directs coffee firms including Starbucks to insert cancer warning labels
31 March 2018
A California judge has ruled that coffee companies including Starbucks Corporation have to put cancer warning labels on their products sold in the state because of the presence of a chemical in the roasting process.
A Los Angeles judge ruled that coffee companies had failed to show that the chemical compound churned out while roasting coffee was insignificant.
“While the plaintiff offered evidence that consumption of coffee increases the risk of harm to the foetus, to infants, to children and to adults, defendants' medical and epidemiology experts testified that they had no opinion on causation,” said the judgement. “Defendants failed to satisfy their burden of proving by a preponderance of evidence that consumption of coffee confers a benefit to human health.”
While Starbucks refused to comment, the National Coffee Association (NCA) said the industry is considering all options including potential appeals and further legal actions.
“Cancer warning labels on coffee would be misleading,” said the NCA. “The US government’s own Dietary Guidelines state that coffee can be part of a healthy lifestyle. The World Health Organization has said that coffee does not cause cancer. Study after study has provided evidence of the health benefits of drinking coffee, including longevity — coffee drinkers live longer.”
According to the NCA, “the lawsuit has made a mockery of Prop 65, has confused consumers, and does nothing to improve public health.”
The Council for Education and Research on Toxics (CERT), which sued the coffee industry in 2010, alleged that it failed to warn consumers that coffee contained high levels of acrylamide, a toxic and carcinogenic chemical.