NCA: Banning European Method Decaf Would Defy Science and Harm Americans’ Health

The National Coffee Association (NCA) has warned that banning the European Method decaf, the most common decaffeinated coffee, would unjustifiably deny decaffeinated coffee drinkers access to a safe product associated with decreased risk of multiple cancers and other health benefits. The NCA will detail the robust body of scientific evidence establishing the safety of European Method decaf in response to a petition filed by activist group the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). In parallel, activist group the Clean Label Project (CLP) is also lobbying the California State Assembly to ban European Method decaf (California Assembly Bill 2066).

About 10% of American adults drink decaffeinated coffee each day, and the majority of decaffeination is done outside the United States. European Method decaf is authorized as safe by the rigorous standards of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the European Food Safety Authority, Food Standards Australia New Zealand, and other food safety authorities around the world. Under U.S. food safety regulations, minute traces of a chemical used in the European Method (methylene chloride) are authorized as safe up to 10 parts per million (the equivalent of 10 drops of water in 10 gallons). FDA has said this level presents “essentially non-existent” risk. EDF’s petition admits that in 17 coffee samples tested by CLP, methylene chloride traces remained from 10% to 99.5% or more below FDA’s safe level.

The overwhelming weight of independent scientific evidence shows that drinking European Method decaf is safe and associated with decreased risk of multiple cancers and other significant health benefits. Neither EDF nor CLP have presented compelling evidence to the contrary, so FDA and the California legislature must reject these baseless proposed bans.

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