California SCRAPS cancer warnings on coffee: State regulator declares there is no evidence of a link
- In March 2018, a California court ruled that coffee contains carcinogens and all cafes must display cancer warning labels
- State regulators said no studies can prove a direct link between coffee and cancer
- On Friday, the ruling was overturned
Coffee will no longer come with cancer warnings in California, the state ruled on Friday.
Last March, a court ruled that all cafes had to warn customers that their espresso contains carcinogens.
Today, after a years-long debate about how significant the risk is, the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) has scrapped the rule.
Officials found the heating of coffee does produce a chemical that has an association with carcinogens, but no direct link, and at such low levels that it does not pose a clear risk.
Coffee contains acrylamide, which has been recognized in California as a carcinogen since the 1990s. Under Proposition 65, the state has to warn everyone about every item that contains a chemical on that list – whether there is a causal link between the two or not. However, the OEHHA found the levels of acrylamide in coffee are so minuscule that they pose no risk, and that warning against coffee smacks of hyperbole
The ruling that approved cancer warning labels, last March, was the climax of a years-long campaign by the nonprofit Council for Education and Research on Toxics.
The group filed lawsuits against just shy of 100 cafes and coffee chains, citing evidence that chemicals in the drink are carcinogenic.
Coffee contains acrylamide, which has been recognized in California as a carcinogen since the 1990s.
Under Proposition 65, the state has to warn everyone about every item that contains a chemical on that list – whether there is a causal link between the two or not.
However, the OEHHA found the levels of acrylamide in coffee are so minuscule that they pose no risk, and that warning against coffee smacks of hyperbole.
Fries and toast contain more acrylamide than coffee, the agency said, asking: are we going to have labels on everything?
Last year, shortly after California brought in cancer warnings for coffee, the influential International Agency for Research on Cancer issued a report which found that coffee is not cancerous – and even lowers the risk of some cancers.
The agency then called on the state to reverse the court ruling in order to update the regulations, removing the rule to warn coffee drinkers that they may be putting themselves at risk.
‘The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) – the only Proposition 65 authoritative body to have evaluated coffee – concluded that coffee consumption is not classifiable as to its overall carcinogenicity and is associated with reduced risk of certain cancers in humans,’ the OEHHA said in a statement.
Then, the OEHHA published a report in June which found that, while coffee contains acrylamide, the product is not cancerous.
The report found coffee lowers the risk of liver and uterine cancers.