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Californians drinking their coffee with a cancer warning



LOS ANGELES – A Los Angeles judge has found that coffee companies have to carry an ominous cancer warning sign for a chemical produced during toasting.

Judge Elihu Berle, Supreme Court, said Wednesday that Starbucks and other companies would not show the enjoyment of drinking coffee surpassed all risks. He decided at an earlier stage in the process that companies had not shown that the threat of the chemical is insignificant.

The Council on Education and Research on Toxic, a non-profit group, sued Starbucks and 90 other companies for a state law that requires warnings about a variety of chemicals that can cause cancer. One is acrylamide, a carcinogen found in coffee.

"The defendants failed to fulfill their burden of proof … that the consumption of coffee gives an advantage to human health," Berle wrote in his proposal.

The coffee industry claimed that the chemical is in harmless quantities and should be exempted from the law because it naturally results from the cooking process that makes beans flavorful. It has also been argued that coffee is good for the body.

The decision came despite the concern expressed in recent years about the possible dangers of coffee, with some studies finding health benefits. In 201

6, the International Agency for Research on Cancer – the World Health Organization's cancer agency – has canceled coffee from its "possible carcinogen list".

The lawsuit was filed under voters' Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Analysis Act 1986. It allows private citizens, advocacy groups and lawyers to sue on behalf of the state and collect part of the civil penalties.

The law was credited with causing chemicals that cause cancer and birth defects, such as lead in hair dyes, mercury in nasal sprays, and arsenic in bottled water. But it is also widely criticized for abusing lawyers who shake businesses up for fast-moving settlements.

"Coffee has always been a healthy drink," said William Murray, President and CEO of the National Coffee Association, in response to the decision. He argued that the lawsuit "does nothing to improve public health".

The lawsuit has been developing for eight years and is still not over. A third phase of the trial will impose civil penalties of up to $ 2,500 per person over eight years each day, an astronomical figure in a state of $ 40 million that is barely imposed.

Lawyer Raphael Metzger, who raised the lawsuit and drinks daily a few cups of coffee and wants the industry to remove the chemical from the process. Coffee companies have said that is not feasible.

"Getting it out is better for public health than leaving it and warning people"

Metzger's customer brought a similar case, which was later taken up by the attorney general and led potato chip manufacturers to agree in 2008 3 Millions of dollars and remove acrylamide from their products.

Chip makers opted instead to do cancer warnings like those found throughout California and largely ignored.

Parking garages have signs that warn against chemical hazards that can cause cancer, birth defects and other reproductive harm. They find that carbon monoxide and gas and diesel exhaust are present and that people should not stay longer than necessary.

Many coffee companies have already warned that acrylamide is contained in coffee. However, many are located in places that are not easy to see, such as under the counters where cream and sugar are available.

The judge has given the defense several weeks to file objections to the proposed decision before finalizing it. California judges can retract their preliminary decisions, but rarely do so.

About a dozen of the defendants in this case have already settled down and agree to publish warnings, Metzger said. Some defendants who are fired or associated with larger companies have around 50 defendants.

Among the last to settle was 7-Eleven, who was willing to pay $ 900,000. BP West Coast Products, operator of gas stations, paid $ 675,000

Even in Starbucks stores where the labels stand, many coffee drinkers know nothing about it.

Afternoon coffee drinkers in a Los Angeles store They said they could look into the alarm or drink a cup of coffee, but the mug of Joe would probably win.

"I just do not think it would stop me," said Jen Bitterman, a digital marketing technologist. "I love the taste, I love the ritual, I love the high, the energy, and I think I'm addicted to it."

Darlington Ibekwe, a lawyer in Los Angeles, said a cancer warning would be annoying would not stop him from treating himself to three lats a week.

"It's like cigarettes, how, damn, now I have to see that?" He said. "Dude, I enjoy my coffee."

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Associated Press writer Amanda Lee Myers of Los Angeles and AP chief medical writer Marilynn Marchione of Milwaukee contributed to this story.

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


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