California judge ruled in favor of coffees needing cancer warning labels

For those of you that live in California, you may have noticed in recent years that cancer warnings are on quite a lot of things now.

I remember when I hadn’t heard of the ruling, but suddenly noticed Carl’s Jr had this Proposition 65 cancer posting on their wall.  I immediately walked out and wanted to never come back- how could Carl’s Jr screw up so badly?

Or so I thought at the time.

It wasn’t until later that I realized they were just early to comply with a CA ruling, and that any restaurant that cooks (yeah, so pretty much all of them) need this Proposition 65 warning.

What’s the deal with this California coffee cancer ruling?

In March a California judge ruled in favor of the Council for Education and Research on Toxics.  Essentially, the California Proposition 65 ruling I mentioned above is a list of chemicals that, if present in an item, that item must have a warning label saying that the item contains things known to the state of California to cause cancer and other reproductive harm.

Sounds great, right?

And how does coffee fit into this?

Well, that is where it starts to get interesting.

What Is Acrylamide?

Acrylamide is the chemical in question here, and you can read about it from the official cancer.gov site here.

Essentially, when you cook and brown many kinds of foods that action makes acrylamide.  Which is why virtually every restaurant must have this almost meaningless label posted somewhere now.

The crazy thing is that human studies of acrylamide have thus far yielded inconclusive results.

So, not only is acrylamide in quite a few cooked meals, but we don’t actually know that it causes cancer in humans (just in rat studies).

Coffee didn’t originally add these labels and escaped pressure and scrutiny until recently.  Technically, roasting coffee beans creates trace amounts of acrylamide.  Therefore, according to the laws of California, the cancer warning label should be present.

The Backlash Over The Ruling

It is worth noting here, that virtually ever study done on coffee drinking shows that overall it has positive effects.

In fact, the American Institute for Cancer Research even has coffee listed as a drink that fights cancer.

Which is why the FDA told CA that labeling coffee as cancer causing is misleading.

And that makes sense.

In Conclusion?

Even if well-meaning, blanket judgments and fear mongering isn’t helping anything.

Living in California, I either ignore or roll my eyes whenever I see the Proposition 65 warning.  And that shouldn’t happen.  If I can’t take cancer warnings seriously because I see them at everything from gas stations to restaurants, how seriously am I going to take things that actually deserve that label?

Not to mention proper scrutiny may not be given to actual restaurants/foods/drinks/products that deserve it.

Sure, thankfully it sounds like coffee may escape its original fate, thanks to the FDA and other organizations stepping in.

Match Made Coffee is happy though.  It seems as though coffee will not be forced to wear a label of shame.  But, how many things have warning labels that should not?

Not everything is as lucky as coffee, being that coffee is the morning juice habit for tons of Californians.

What do you guys think?  Has the California cancer coffee ruling gone too far?  Not far enough?  We’d be curious to know your thoughts.


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