Coffee roasters and retailers must put cancer warnings Court ruling


A court ruling that provided coffee drinkers a shock earlier this year was settled Monday when a Los Angeles judge said coffee sold in California should carry cancer warnings.

Superior Court Judge Elihu Berle said Starbucks Corp. and other roasters and sellers cannot reveal that take advantage of drinking coffee exceeded any dangers from a carcinogen that is a byproduct of the roasting procedure. He had tentatively made the very same written decision in March.

A not-for-profit group took legal action against about 90 coffee companies, including Keurig Green Mountain Inc. and Peet’s Operating Co. Inc., under a state law that requires warnings on products and in places where chemicals that can cause cancer exist.

The coffee market did not reject that the chemical acrylamide was discovered in coffee. They argued it was at safe levels and their item should be exempt from the law since the chemical results naturally from cooking necessary for flavor.

The last ruling clears the way for the Council for Education and Research on Toxics to seek an irreversible injunction that would either result in ominous caution labels or a commitment by the industry to remove the chemical from their item– as the potato chip industry did years ago when sued by the very same group.

Attorney Raphael Metzger, who represents the nonprofit, said he hopes mediation will cause some settlement of the case that has been brewing for eight years. If no arrangement is reached, another stage of trial would determine civil charges as high as $2,500 per individual exposed every day since the suit was filed in 2010.

” In all the years I’ve been practicing, I’ve never ever had a case that got to this point,” Metzger stated. “They’ve lost all their defenses and we proved our case. The only concerns left are the nature and form of the injunction and the amount of penalties to be assessed. It’s not a quite location for them to be.”

Berle had ruled about 2 years ago against the market’s best defense before releasing the tentative decision March 29 that declined a secondary defense.

At the time, the coffee market stated it was thinking about all choices, including appeals. It stated that cancer cautions would be misleading and stated various studies have actually shown health benefits of drinking coffee.

The industry and lawyers in the case did not immediately reply to an email seeking comment sent out after business hours.

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