Trouble is brewing in the courtrooms of Los Angeles — coffee, our country’s caffeinated favorite, could soon come with a cigarette-like cancer warning. The little-known Council for Education and Research on Toxics (CERT) sued around 70 coffee companies for not including warning labels on a product that contains carcinogens, and the 7-year-old suit finally kicked off in court this week.
California’s Proposition 65 enforces labeling of all products containing substances linked to a significant increase in cancer risk, such as the chemicals from burning cigarettes. Pretty much any substance that’s been burned or charred is a reasonable suspect for carcinogen presence — including, evidently, roasted coffee beans.
The roasted beans contain trace amounts of acrylamide, a carcinogen classified by the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act as an “extremely hazardous substance.” Acrylamide is also present in other cooked and sold food items such as toast, cereal, and even baby food. The coffee companies’ lawyers argue that the prevalence is so minor that the health risk is insignificant. They also bring up the multiple studies that have been released advocating for the healthfulness of coffee and its ability to protect against disease.
CERT lawyers, on the other hand, condemn this science as “just a bunch of hypotheses” and claim that coffee companies have broken the law and exposed millions of Californians to “really high levels of a carcinogen.”
Were the labels to be introduced, surely panic would ensue at the counter of every espresso bar. The verdict of the suit is yet to be decided, but we’re skeptical about the true danger of such a healthful jolt of a drink.