Cancer warning for coffee leaves experts baffled

03 April, 2018 by
Brittney Levinson

A Californian judge’s proposed decision to put cancer warning labels on coffee has left experts baffled, who say there is plenty of research showing coffee doesn’t cause cancer.

Non-profit group The Council for Education and Research on Toxics sued Starbucks and several other coffee roasters, retailers and distributors under California’s Proposition 65, which requires businesses to warn customers if they could be exposed to any carcinogens.

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Within the list of more than 900 confirmed or suspected carcinogens is a compound called acrylamide, which is found in fries, burnt toast and roasted coffee beans.

Superior Court Judge Elihu Berle wrote in a proposed ruling that Starbucks and other companies failed to prove the threat from the acrylamide was insignificant.

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However the decision has perplexed health experts, after the World Health Organisation confirmed two years ago that there was “no conclusive evidence for a carcinogenic effect of drinking coffee”.

Mariana Carla Stern, a University of Southern California professor, told the LA Times consumers should not be worried about consuming coffee.

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“I can understand the logic of the judge, by going by the book. But I can also understand the science,” she said.

“From the science standpoint, there’s no reason the public should worry about drinking coffee.”

If the proposed ruling goes into effect, Californian businesses must provide the warning notice or they will be subject to a penalty for each violation of up to US$2500 a day.