Last week, the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) proposed exempting coffee from the Proposition 65 requirement that requires any business that sells a product with a “carcinogen” in it to put a cancer warning labels on the package.
A judge had earlier ruled that businesses selling coffee would have to add the warning due to the presence of acrylamide, a “probable carcinogen” according to the World Health Organization. Any company selling coffee without a warning “could be on the hook for as much as $2,500 in penalties for each cup of cup of coffee sold,” according to Bloomberg News.
Consumer Choice Center (CCC) Senior Fellow, Jeff Stier a long-time critic of Proposition 65, welcomed the news but says the decision’s reasoning doesn't go far enough to limit the application of the troublesome law.
"The basis for this decision is weak and leaves this ill-advised law largely in place for other equally safe products," said Stier.
"Coffee doesn’t pose a cancer risk at all. But that is not because, as OEHHA wrote, ‘the formation of acrylamide is part of and inherent in the process of roasting coffee beans.’ It’s safe because the presence of the compound, present at low levels, regardless of how it got there, does not pose a risk.
"This justification is nonsense because our bodies can’t tell whether a chemical is in our food or beverage because it is an inherent part of the process, or because it is added in a lab. It’s either a cancer risk at a certain exposure level, or it’s not. This is the same excuse the California Attorney General made when I attempted to bring a bounty hunter case against Whole Foods for failure to place a cancer warning label on whole wheat organic bread, which, while perfectly safe, contains acrylamide," said Stier.
According to Stier, "Rather than apply a scientific analysis, which would result in a defacto end to Proposition 65, this faulty reasoning exempts politically popular products such as whole wheat organic bread and coffee, but retains the absurd law for important synthetic chemicals that pose as little or less risk than acrylamide in coffee."