Your California coffee might come with a cancer warning — and it’s all because of a cancer-causing chemical and a lawsuit.
The chemical acrylamide is created when coffee beans are roasted and California officially lists it as a cancer-causing chemical. It’s also found in French fries, bread, cookies and cereal. The lawsuit claims companies that make or sell coffee aren’t giving proper warnings about acrylamide — violating California’s Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986.
The lawsuit was filed by the Nonprofit Council for Education and Research on Toxics, or CERT, and targets companies like Starbucks, 7-Eleven, and BP. CERT wants these companies to pay fines and post warnings about the coffee they drink.
For the most part, coffee is considered a healthy drink and many studies show health benefits associated with coffee, like a lower risk of early death, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes. According to the U.S. Dietary Guidelines, coffee can be part of a healthy lifestyle, but studies in rodents show that acrylamide exposure increases the risk of cancer. However, more research on humans needs to be done.
13 Companies, including 7-Eleven, have already settled and will post the cancer warnings — time will tell if more coffee cups will start to come with a warning label.