California Now Needs To Tell Its Residents Coffee May Cause Cancer

Photo: benstevens (Getty Images)

You know how a little bit ago we told you that coffee could help a guy out with erectile dysfunction? Well, you may want to hold off on sipping that cup because a judge in California has now issued a ruling that forces all coffee sellers in the state to warn customers that drinking coffee may give them cancer.

According to Grub Street, the decision was issued by Superior Court judge Elihu Berle — a decision that was the result of an age-old lawsuit filed by a nonprofit called the Council for Education and Research on Toxics. This group was pretty much formed to sue coffee sellers in California “on grounds that they broke a state law forcing companies to disclose if their products have any carcinogenic chemicals.”

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Grub Street

CERT’s lawsuit noted that a by-product of roasting coffee beans is acrylamide, a compound scientists think may be linked to cancer. Under California’s Proposition 65, residents can, on the state’s behalf, sue companies that “knowingly” expose customers to carcinogens, then collect a portion of any damages. So that’s what CERT did, though it says the goal was always getting Big Coffee to remove a dangerous chemical from something two-thirds of Americans consume every day.

The defendants tried reasoning that the government’s own Dietary Guidelines lists coffee as part of a healthy lifestyle, and that coffee itself has a negligible amount of acrylamide. But Berle said the companies couldn’t disprove that a “significant risk” still exists if you drink coffee, writing, “Defendants failed to satisfy their burden of proving by a preponderance of evidence that consumption of coffee confers a benefit to human health.” (Of course, by that rubric, fast-food chains should be wallpapered in warnings.)

And because of that, coffee sellers (including 7-Eleven) have just agreed to put the cancer warning sign on their coffee. But let’s be honest: coffee could cause painful hemorrhoids everyday and people would still drink it.