Starbucks Temporarily Spared from Cancer Warning Sign Saga

We’re used to living in a world where “if it’s good, then it MUST be bad.”  We acquiesce to this when it comes to sweets, fatty foods maybe even having chocolate cake for breakfast (although isn’t a chocolate muffin pretty much the same thing?). But if you want to see a roomful of adults REALLY freak out, tell them they can’t have their coffee—or that coffee is bad for them.  …And then duck!

Well, some good news for coffee drinkers out there because new regulations would explicitly exempt companies, including Starbucks, from putting cancer warning labels on coffee served in California. The new rule could settle a long-running legal dispute that some argue is driven by shaky science, mixed motives, and a particularly Californian brand of burdensome over-regulation.

The state’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, which assesses environmental health risks, now says that there is “no significant cancer risk” associated with chemicals that occur naturally in brewed coffee, citing research from the International Agency for Research on Cancer. The revised rules would overturn a March 2018 court finding that warning labels were required under California’s Proposition 65, the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act.

According to sources, the saga began as early as 2002, when researchers found the chemical acrylamide in an array of foods. Acrylamide is on California’s list of carcinogenic chemicals, and in 2010, an organization called the Council for Education and Research on Toxics, or CERT, filed suit against Starbucks and dozens of other companies. The suit alleged that companies’ failure to put prominent warning labels on their products broke the law. Companies, including 7-Eleven, have already agreed to large settlements in the case.

But acrylamide in food is in many cases a natural byproduct of coffee roasting and other cooking processes, and scientific evidence that it is cancer-causing remains tentative. Many studies have found evidence that drinking coffee actually decreases the risk of cancer. Ready to sweeten the plot?  Some have alleged that the case was brought primarily to reap financial rewards for the plaintiff’s lawyers, which has brought other similar lawsuits and has ties to the group that brought the suit.

For now, the new rule will now enter a review phase, with public hearings scheduled for August. Where you find two or more people gathered for coffee, you’ll find legal disputes and they can be upsetting. When these things affect YOUR business including landlord/tenant matters, contract disputes, ADA complaints or even collections, call in the only litigator who isn’t afraid to eat chocolate cake for breakfast (in muffin form or not) — Dean Sperling who will work to resolve YOUR matter with YOUR best interests in mind! 
More on the case:

Coffee Doesn’t Cause Cancer After All, Says California Health Regulator