Should coffee carry cancer warnings?

That undisputed fact led a Los Angeles judge to rule this spring that coffee companies must provide cancer warnings to coffee drinkers. The ruling cast a shadow on a daily and often essential rite for millions of people around the world. But now, the state of California has intervened, telling coffee drinkers not to worry. An agency has proposed a rule declaring that not only does coffee pose no significant risk of cancer, it may actually have health benefits. Coffee companies have said that attempts to strip acrylamide after beans were roasted were ineffective and warped the flavour. They also tried to convince Judge Elihu M. Berle in Los Angeles County Superior Court that trace amounts of the chemical in coffee were not dangerous to consumers. In March, justice Berle ruled that coffee had to come with cancer warnings and the coffee companies geared up for years of appeals. But in June, the WHO concluded that there was “inadequate evidence” that drinking coffee caused cancer, reinforcing earlier findings by a panel of experts. The State’s action comes amid an escalating backlash against what is often seen as ubiquitous consumer warnings. The proposal is expected be approved by the end of November.

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