Starbucks and Others May be Fined $7 Million per California Resident for Cancer-causing Coffee

A Los Angeles judge has ruled that coffee should bear a warning that it may cause cancer saying that those opposed to the written warning did not adequately prove their case. The next step is for the judge to decide how much coffee producers will need to compensate those who have been drinking coffee for the last eight years while the case has been battled in court. While it is doubtful that the fine will go that high, the judge could decide to fine the coffee producers $2,500 per day for each of the last eight years for each of the 39.54 million people living there. If the judge decides to place the maximum fine, it would total over $7 million per person.

The case was brought to trial under The Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act that lists more than 900 chemicals that may cause cancer. At the heart of the argument is acrylamide that is naturally produced when coffee beans are roasted. According to Council for Education and Research on Toxics who took Starbucks and other companies to court, coffee companies have done nothing to take acrylamide out of coffee. The same small nonprofit sued potato chip manufacturers in the past forcing them to change how potato chips were made forever.

Raphael Metzger who is the lawyer for the Education and Research on Toxics says that acrylamide could be removed from coffee without ruining its taste, but Starbucks and others say that removing it would ruin the taste of coffee. Like many in the Sunshine State, Metzger admits that he drinks a few cups each day.

The burden of proof in the case laid with the coffee companies to prove that the amount of acrylamide in their product was so small that it did not pose a cancer risk. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Elihu Berle said that the companies, however, did not provide enough evidence to convince him that was the case.


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