Coffee cancer warnings may migrate beyond California border - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Coffee cancer warnings may migrate beyond California border

Posted: Updated:
LOS ANGELES -

(AP) - It's fair to say that a lot of people awoke Friday to a headline that might have jolted them more awake than a morning cup of joe: A California judge had ruled that coffee sold in the state should carry a cancer warning.
  
Here are some things to know about the ruling and how it might affect you:
  
WHAT'S THE BEEF WITH COFFEE?
  
Like many foods that are cooked, coffee-roasting creates a chemical byproduct called acrylamide that is a carcinogen.
  
The Council for Education and Research on Toxics, a small nonprofit, took the coffee industry to court under a California law that requires warnings where chemicals known to cause cancer or birth defects are present.
  
Coffee companies, led by Starbucks Corp., acknowledge the presence of the chemical, but said it's found in trace levels that are harmless. They argue any risks are outweighed by other health benefits from drinking the beverage.
  
While scientists have gone back and forth for years on benefits or risks from coffee, concerns have eased recently and some studies have found health benefits and even lower risks of getting certain cancer types.
  
But a Los Angeles Superior Court judge said Big Coffee had failed to prove their case.
  
HAVE I SEEN THIS MOVIE BEFORE?
  
The same group took potato chip makers to court in California years ago because acrylamide is present in fried potatoes. Under a settlement, the industry agreed to remove the chemical from chips.
  
Attorney Raphael Metzger, who represents the nonprofit, said if chip makers could do it, so can coffee roasters. That is his ultimate goal.
  
But coffee companies have said it's not feasible to remove acrylamide without ruining coffee's flavor.
  
In addition to posting warnings, coffee companies could face some civil penalties of up $2,500 for each person in California exposed daily over eight years.
  
"The judge could impose crippling penalties which is all the more reason why it would behoove these companies to settle the case," Metzger said Friday.
  
WHEN WILL I START SEEING SCARY CANCER WARNING LABELS?
  
Anyone living or visiting California may have noticed signs warning about cancer risks at gas stations, hardware stores, cafes and even Disneyland.
  
The law was passed by voters more than 30 years ago and the signs are so ubiquitous and often vaguely worded that most people pay little heed. For example, parking garages caution: "This area contains chemicals known to the state of California to cause cancer, birth defects and other reproductive harm."
  
"The breadth of the statute requires a proliferation of warning that results in the public not being warned because there are so many without specificity that they're essentially broadly disregarded," said attorney Jim Colopy, who has defended manufacturers and distributors in similar lawsuits.
  
After the lawsuit was brought, many coffee shops began posting warnings that specifically say California has determined acrylamide is among chemicals that cause cancer or reproductive toxicity.
  
The signs also say that cancer risk is influenced by a variety of factors and that the Food and Drug Administration has not advised people to stop drinking coffee or eating baked goods that contain acrylamide.
  
Many of the signs that are posted, however, are in places not easily visible, such as below the counter where cream and sugar is available.
  
The ruling could result in signs being placed at counters where customers see them before making a purchase and will require warnings on packaging of ground coffee and bags of roasted beans.
  
IS SOME WACKY CALIFORNIA LAW GOING TO KILL MY MORNING BUZZ?
  
The law only applies to California, but the state is such a massive market that tailoring packaging with warnings specifically to stores in the state could be a tall order.
  
Colopy said it's not feasible for his clients who market products nationally and worldwide to create California-only packaging.
  
"Often industry has no choice but to provide a warning no matter where they are sold, whether inside or outside of California," he said.
  
So, the short answer is maybe.
  
Supporters of the law would argue broader awareness is not such a bad thing.

(Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

3/30/2018 2:33:47 PM (GMT -7:00)

  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • 22-year-old Sandpoint man dies in Clayton 395 crash

    22-year-old Sandpoint man dies in Clayton 395 crash

    Saturday, July 21 2018 1:58 AM EDT2018-07-21 05:58:53 GMT

    STEVENS COUNTY, Wash. - Washington State Patrols responded to a fatal crash in Stevens County Friday evening. On SR-395 in Clayton near Mile Post 185, a vehicle crossed the center line and crashed head on with another car, killing the driver. The causing driver who was transported to the hospital is in custody for vehicular homicide. There were no other occupants of either vehicle. 

    >>

    STEVENS COUNTY, Wash. - Washington State Patrols responded to a fatal crash in Stevens County Friday evening. On SR-395 in Clayton near Mile Post 185, a vehicle crossed the center line and crashed head on with another car, killing the driver. The causing driver who was transported to the hospital is in custody for vehicular homicide. There were no other occupants of either vehicle. 

    >>
  • Amazon.com to bring more than 1,500 jobs to Spokane

    Amazon.com to bring more than 1,500 jobs to Spokane

    Friday, July 20 2018 8:37 PM EDT2018-07-21 00:37:29 GMT

    SPOKANE, Wash. - Seattle-based Amazon.com is opening a fulfillment center in Spokane, promising more than 1,500 full-time jobs.    The company announced on Friday that it was opening its first fulfillment center in eastern Washington.    The 600,000-square foot center will be built near the Spokane International Airport.

    >>

    SPOKANE, Wash. - Seattle-based Amazon.com is opening a fulfillment center in Spokane, promising more than 1,500 full-time jobs.    The company announced on Friday that it was opening its first fulfillment center in eastern Washington.    The 600,000-square foot center will be built near the Spokane International Airport.

    >>
  • Spokane motorcyclist dies in DUI crash near Reardan

    Spokane motorcyclist dies in DUI crash near Reardan

    Saturday, July 21 2018 1:47 PM EDT2018-07-21 17:47:50 GMT

    REARDAN, Wash. -  A Spokane man died after crashing his motorcycle on Highway 2 near Reardan in a DUI incident Friday night. Gregory Sutton, 35 of Spokane, was traveling westbound on Highway 2 on his Honda motorcycle when he left the roadway and was ejected from the bike, landing in a ditch near Mile Post 262 in Lincoln County.

    >>

    REARDAN, Wash. -  A Spokane man died after crashing his motorcycle on Highway 2 near Reardan in a DUI incident Friday night. Gregory Sutton, 35 of Spokane, was traveling westbound on Highway 2 on his Honda motorcycle when he left the roadway and was ejected from the bike, landing in a ditch near Mile Post 262 in Lincoln County.

    >>
HD DOPPLER 6i
/
  • Top Stories from KHQHomeMore>>

  • Crews responding to John Belmont fire in Mica

    Crews responding to John Belmont fire in Mica

    Saturday, July 21 2018 10:26 PM EDT2018-07-22 02:26:47 GMT

    MICA, Wash. - Fire crews are responding to a brush fire in Mica Saturday evening. The John Belmont fire is burning at 20-30 acres on Belmont Rd. near the Spokane Valley Rifle and Pistol Club. The Spokane Valley Fire Department says multiple structures are being threatened. Firefighters are working to protect at least two structures.Multiple agencies are responding and air support is being called in. 

    >>

    MICA, Wash. - Fire crews are responding to a brush fire in Mica Saturday evening. The John Belmont fire is burning at 20-30 acres on Belmont Rd. near the Spokane Valley Rifle and Pistol Club. The Spokane Valley Fire Department says multiple structures are being threatened. Firefighters are working to protect at least two structures.Multiple agencies are responding and air support is being called in. 

    >>
  • Man who took hostages at supermarket in custody

    Man who took hostages at supermarket in custody

    Saturday, July 21 2018 10:02 PM EDT2018-07-22 02:02:01 GMT

    LOS ANGELES (AP) - Police believe a man involved in a standoff with officers at a Los Angeles supermarket shot his grandmother and girlfriend before firing at officers during a pursuit, then crashing outside the supermarket and running inside the store. Officer Mike Lopez, a police spokesman, says the man had fled from the scene after the Saturday afternoon shooting in South Los Angeles. 

    >>

    LOS ANGELES (AP) - Police believe a man involved in a standoff with officers at a Los Angeles supermarket shot his grandmother and girlfriend before firing at officers during a pursuit, then crashing outside the supermarket and running inside the store. Officer Mike Lopez, a police spokesman, says the man had fled from the scene after the Saturday afternoon shooting in South Los Angeles. 

    >>
  • Buckshot and L Road fires in Mattawa both nearing containment

    Buckshot and L Road fires in Mattawa both nearing containment

    Saturday, July 21 2018 7:37 PM EDT2018-07-21 23:37:00 GMT

    MATTAWA, Wash. - The Southeast Washington Interagency Incident Management Team says the Buckshot fire is now 93 percent contained Saturday afternoon. The Road L fire near the Vernita bridge is now 75 percent contained.

    >>

    MATTAWA, Wash. - The Southeast Washington Interagency Incident Management Team says the Buckshot fire is now 93 percent contained Saturday afternoon. The Road L fire near the Vernita bridge is now 75 percent contained.

    >>