Health Officials in California Propose Regulation Change for Coffee

Health officials in California have proposed changing a regulation that would declare coffee does not present a significant risk of cancer, which would counter a recent ruling in state court that has upset many coffee drinkers.

The Office of Environment Health Hazard Assessment announced its move, which is unprecedented, to declare the product safe following a review of over 1,000 studies that were published by the World Health Organization this week finding the lack of adequate evidence that coffee can cause cancer

A law passed in 1986 by voters, which is implemented by the agency, requires warnings on chemicals that are known to cause birth defects and cancer. One of the chemicals on the list is acrylamide, which can be found in many different things and, due to being a byproduct of the processes of coffee roasting and brewing, is in each cup.

If the new regulation is adopted, the coffee industry would enjoy a huge victory as it is facing the possibility of massive civil penalties from losing a lawsuit that has gone on for eight years in Los Angeles over the same issues and could have to list several potentially upsetting warnings on all packaging for coffee sold anywhere in California.

Starbuck along with other retailers and roasters lost a lawsuit by a non-profit to require the warnings on coffee due to the chemical being present in the drink.

The judge presiding over the case said that the companies had failed to show benefits that existed from drinking coffee were greater than any risks. The judge had ruled at a prior phase of the trial that the companies did not show that threats by the chemical were insignificant.

The action by the state rejects the ruling.

In a prepared statement, the agency said that the proposed new regulation would say that drinking coffee doesn’t pose any significant cancer risk, even though there is a presence of chemicals that are created in both the roasting and brewing processes that are listed as known carcinogens under Proposition 65.

The attorney, who was the winner of the lawsuit for the Council of Education and Research for Toxics, said that the regulatory agency essentially had nullified the court decision.

The attorney added that he was simply shocked and the thing has a bad odor to it.

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