Coffee companies may have to post warning labels on their product if a California judge’s proposed order becomes final. Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Elihu Berle issued a proposed decision March 28 that found Starbucks and dozens of other companies had not been able to prove any health benefits from coffee and also had “failed to satisfy their burden of proving that sound considerations of public health support an alternate risk level for acrylamide in coffee.” The issue is the presence in coffee of acrylamide, which has been on California’s Proposition 65 list as a cancer-causing substance since 1990. The National Coffee Association says the government’s Dietary Guidelines state that coffee can be part of a healthy lifestyle, and that “although acrylamide manufactured in synthetic form has been associated with cancers in rodents fed massive doses, natural dietary acrylamide in minute amounts in foods like coffee does not have an effect on human beings.” The National Cancer Institute says that while rodent studies "have found that acrylamide exposure increases the risk for several types of cancer," a large number of epidemiologic studies in humans "have found no consistent evidence that dietary acrylamide exposure is associated with the risk of any type of cancer." The coffee association says it is considering all its options, “including potential appeals and further legal actions.” Berle will issue a final decision after receiving comments on his proposed decision. The plaintiff in the case is the Council for Education and Research on Toxics.
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