Sell cof­fee with a cancer warn­ing, says US judge

Daily Mail - - News - Mail For­eign Ser­vice

COF­FEE cups from stores such as Star­bucks should carry a cancer warn­ing, a US judge has ruled.

The de­ci­sion could mean all cof­fee cups in Cal­i­for­nia are re­quired to dis­play mes­sages sim­i­lar to those on cig­a­rette pack­ets.

The rul­ing puts an end to a court bat­tle that has been fought for eight years be­tween a non-profit group and more than 90 food and drinks com­pa­nies, in­clud­ing Star­bucks.

The case cen­tres around a car­cino­genic present in cof­fee called acryl­amide, which is pro­duced in the roast­ing process.

The rul­ing could also mean cof­fee com­pa­nies have to pay thou­sands of dol­lars to or­di­nary cus­tomers who say they have been ex­posed to acryl­amide.

The case came be­fore Judge Elihu Berle when the Coun­cil for Ed­u­ca­tion and Re­search on Tox­ics (CERT) brought a law­suit against the com­pa­nies. Cal­i­for­nian state law re­quires clear warn­ings on a wide range of chem­i­cals that can cause cancer.

The Los An­ge­les Su­pe­rior Court Judge ruled that the cof­fee com­pa­nies had failed to prove that acryl­amide was not harm­ful to health. His rul­ing is likely to be seen as very con­tro­ver­sial. Sci­en­tists have de­bated how healthy cof­fee is for decades – and in 2016, the World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion moved the drink off its ‘pos­si­ble car­cino­gen’ list.

How­ever, Judge Berle said ex­ist­ing stud­ies did not ad­e­quately as­sess the risk. In his pro­posed rul­ing, he wrote that the de­fen­dants had ‘failed to sat­isfy their bur­den of prov­ing... that con­sump­tion of cof­fee con­fers a ben­e­fit to hu­man health’.

Pro­posed Cal­i­for­nia ju­di­cial de­ci­sions can be re­v­ersed but this rarely hap­pens, mean­ing the judge’s com­ments are likely to be fi­nal. The lo­ca­tion of the warn­ing has not been de­cided but it could be on the cup.

Stud­ies in­di­cate cof­fee is un­likely to cause breast, prostate or pan­cre­atic cancer, and it even seems to lower the risks for liver, uter­ine, breast, colon and prostate cancer.

Ev­i­dence is in­ad­e­quate to de­ter­mine its ef­fect on dozens of other can­cers.

Wil­liam Mur­ray, pres­i­dent of the US Na­tional Cof­fee As­so­ci­a­tion, said cof­fee had been shown to be healthy.

He ar­gued CERT was mis­us­ing a law de­signed to re­duce chem­i­cal ex­po­sure in items such as plas­tic wa­ter bot­tles.

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