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Will Coffee Soon Come With Proposition 65 Cancer Warning?

Starbucks and roughly 70 other coffee purveyors are fighting lawsuits that allege a carcinogen has been found in coffee and the drink should carry a Proposition 65 cancer warning under California law.

According to the Council for Education and Research on Toxics, a possible carcinogen called acrylamide has been found in roasted coffee beans. The chemical is listed in the California Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act, also known as Prop 65.

The New York Post reports that the plaintiffs in the Prop 65 coffee lawsuits and number of other groups want coffee companies to provide a Proposition 65 cancer warning on coffee products warning consumers about the chemical.

The Prop 65 coffee lawsuits and public interest groups also take issue with recent reports that coffee provides health benefits, including a lower risk of death from a number of diseases, in addition to the caffeine buzz consumers crave. One plaintiff argues that the purported health benefits of coffee are only “a bunch of hypotheses” and consumers should be aware that drinking coffee exposes them to “really high levels of a carcinogen.”

Starbucks shot back in one Proposition 65 cancer warning lawsuit, arguing that the alleged carcinogen, acrylamide, is commonly found in a number of products, including fried foods, toast, and cereals.

The chemical, according to an article from Shape.com, is “a substance formed in all baked, toasted, roasted and fried foods by a reaction between sugars (naturally occurring or added) and the amino acid asparagine.” Further, the odorless crystal is also credited with making cooked foods golden brown and delicious, says the article.

Complicating matters, continues Shape, acrylamide is a byproduct of preparing food and coffee, so it is not easy to remove like a food additive. The chemical is produced when food is cooked at high temperatures, so the article recommends eating more raw foods and using different cooking methods, like grilling or steaming to cut down on acrylamide consumption.

Additionally, individuals worried about acrylamide consumption can do things like soaking potatoes or preparing things like toast to a golden yellow rather than brown to cut the production of the chemical, notes the Shape article.

“A recent study found that natural substances in broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts fight heart disease by protecting the bends and branches in blood vessels, which tend to be the areas most prone to cholesterol build-up and inflammation,” explains the Shape article, noting that “[t]hose exact same foods also contain natural detoxers that deactivate cancer causing chemicals and stop the growth of existing cancer cells, meaning they offer dual protection against the effects of acrylamide.”

Proposition 65 cancer warnings have popped up in interesting places, including parking garages, where individuals are exposed to potentially dangerous chemicals.

The plaintiffs in the 7-year-long litigation over the Proposition 65 cancer warning for coffee assert that the brown beverage should be no different. Even if only low levels of the Prop 65 listed chemical are found in coffee, say the plaintiffs, consumers should be aware that they are drinking a carcinogen.

The Prop 65 coffee carcinogen lawsuit has taken on 70 coffee companies and a bench trial has begun in the litigation.

Are you aware of a product that should contain a Proposition 65 cancer warning but does not in violation of the law? You may have a case to file a Prop 65 lawsuit and hold the company accountable. Fill out the form on this page now for a FREE case evaluation. If the attorneys at Bradley/Grombacher think you have a case, you will be contacted for a free, no-obligation consultation.


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