LOS ANGELES – A judge ruled Thursday that Starbucks and other coffee sellers in California must carry cancer warnings, according to the Associated Press.
The decision comes after a lawsuit was filed by the nonprofit Council for Education and Research on Toxins that targeted several companies, including Starbucks and 7-Eleven, CNN previously reported.
The lawsuit alleged that the companies “failed to provide clear and reasonable warning” that drinking coffee could expose people to acrylamide, which is created when coffee beans are roasted.
Court documents filed by the nonprofit state that, under Proposition 65, businesses must warn people about the presence of agents that affect health.
The coffee industry claimed that the acrylamide was present, but only in harmless levels. The industry also argued that they should be exempt because the chemical results naturally from the cooking process.
In addition to paying fines, the lawsuit called for companies to post warnings about acrylamide with explanations about the risks of drinking coffee.
"I'm addicted to coffee, I confess, and I would like to be able to have mine without acrylamide," said Raphael Metzger, the attorney who represented the nonprofit.
"Coffee has been shown, over and over again, to be a healthy beverage. The US Government's own Dietary Guidelines state that coffee can be part of a healthy lifestyle. This lawsuit simply confuses consumers, and has the potential to make a mockery of Prop 65 cancer warning at a time when the public needs clear and accurate information about health,” said Bill Murray, President and CEO of the National Coffee Association.
Acrylamide was added to California’s carcinogen list in January of 1990.