California Lawmakers Want Coffee To Come With A Cancer Warning Label — But Don't Freak Out Yet

Coffee may start coming with a warning label in California after a superior court judge preliminarily ruled that coffee shops hadn’t clearly stated coffee’s potential to cause cancer. The state mandates that food products with cancer-causing agents be clearly labeled with warnings, something that coffee shops haven’t done.

The court claims that shops selling coffee have "failed to meet their burden of proof on their Alternative Significant Risk Level affirmative defense.” The chemical in question? Acrylamide, which is a result of roasting coffee beans.

And while the major coffee companies argue that the acrylamide levels in coffee are harmless in the quantities consumed, public health officials and the law disagreed. Of the defendants, 13 settled prior to the preliminary decision while others, like Starbucks, chose to wait, according to CNN.

This case against coffee started in 2010 with a lawsuit filed by the nonprofit Council for Education and Research on Toxics. The group claimed that consumers were not being adequately warned about the potential danger of consuming coffee.

Attorney Raphael Metzger has been working for eight years on the case and said he was relieved with even this temporary ruling. "It's a good day for public health,” said Metzger.

But don’t put down your java just yet – acrylamide is found in many other foods like potatoes, cereal, cookies, and other baked goods. And experts say that there is still a lot of research to be done. Until then, it looks like at least in California, consumers will have the right information to decide for themselves: to drink, or not to drink coffee.