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Coffee May Not Have to Carry Cancer Warnings in California After All


In a strange about-face, the lead agency in charge of implementing a food labeling bill has proposed a loophole for coffee.

California’s Proposition 65 (the full name of the bill: the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act) has, since its passing in 1986, forced anyone selling any product containing any chemical known to the state to cause cancer to carry a warning. On the very long list of chemicals covered by the bill is acrylamide, a compound found in roasted or fried foods. Coffee, which is roasted, contains acrylamide.

Earlier this year, a lawsuit passed through a California court, the results of which ruled that sellers of coffee should have been displaying cancer warnings for years, and since they had not been doing so, could be forced to pay out massive settlements as a result. It seems simple enough: acrylamide is on the list, coffee includes acrylamide, therefore coffee should carry a warning. But, according to California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, the agency in charge of monitoring Proposition 65 adherence, coffee deserves a break.

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