DAVIS (CBS13) — Sugar, cream, and a cancer warning?
A new lawsuit may soon force coffee shops in California to warn you about a possible cancer risk linked to your morning cup of java.
The state has a list of chemicals it considers a possible cause of cancer, and one of them—known as acrylamide—is created when coffee beans are roasted.
UC Davis Chemical Engineering Professor Bill Ristenpart says the level of acrylamide in a cup of coffee poses no harm. He recently served as an expert witness in the coffee case, seeking to declare java unhealthy, and require labels–warning of the potential cancer risks in the grounds.
“That would be a terrible disservice to the people of California… to have a warning label because of these trace molecules that are outweighed by the positive molecules there, you could deter people from drinking coffee,” said Ristenpart.
“Moderation is the key to life, and I think people should take that into consideration when making changes that affect people’s lives,” said Valerie Zimmerman as she drank her cup of joe nearby.
A California judge may decide how to implement those changes.
The lawsuit cites the safe water and toxic enforcement act of 1986.
The state law orders businesses and public places to post warnings on anything potentially harmful to one’s health.
Should coffee shops be next?
“Sure I think for transparency it could be on there, but maybe we need to look at the way we’re roasting it,” said Lauren Zimmerman, a chef, and a regular coffee drinker.
Attorneys also want coffee companies to reduce the amount of the chemical acrylamide to the point where there would be no significant risk.
Ristenpart doesn’t think that’s necessary.
“Bread has acrylamide, cookies have acrylamide, asparagus—if you cook it—has acrylamide, so we could slap a warning label on everything,” he said.
Attorneys say mediation is set for next week. And if coffee companies can’t come to an agreement on warning labels, a judge could reach a decision sometime this year.