A Los Angeles judge has determined that coffee companies must carry an ominous cancer warning label because of a chemical produced in the roasting process.
Superior Court Judge Elihu Berle said Wednesday that Starbucks and other companies failed to show that benefits from drinking coffee outweighed any risks. He ruled in an earlier phase of trial that companies hadn't shown the threat from the chemical was insignificant.
The Council for Education and Research on Toxics, a nonprofit group, sued Starbucks and 90 other companies under a state law that requires warnings on a wide range of chemicals that can cause cancer. One is acrylamide, a carcinogen present in coffee.
"Defendants failed to satisfy their burden of proving ... that consumption of coffee confers a benefit to human health," Berle wrote in his proposed ruling.
The coffee industry had claimed the chemical was present at harmless levels and should be exempt from the law because it results naturally from the cooking process that makes beans flavorful. It also argued coffee was good for the body.