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FDA supports exemption of coffee from Prop 65

The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a statement in favour of a proposed regulation to exempt coffee from Proposition 65 cancer warnings.

Under Proposition 65, California law requires that products contain cancer warnings if they will expose consumers to chemicals that California health authorities have identified as causing cancer.

“We were deeply concerned when a court recently ruled that a California law – known as Proposition 65 – may require coffee sold in California to be labelled with a cancer warning because of the presence of a chemical called acrylamide,” the FDA says.

“Requiring a cancer warning on coffee, based on the presence of acrylamide, would be more likely to mislead consumers than to inform them.”

Acrylamide can form in many foods during high-temperature cooking, such as frying, roasting and baking. Acrylamide in food forms from sugars and an amino acid that are naturally.

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In coffee, acrylamide forms during the roasting of coffee beans. Although acrylamide at high doses has been linked to cancer in animals, current science indicates that consuming coffee poses no significant risk of cancer. This finding was reflected in a comprehensive report by the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer.

“We’ve taken this position because we too have carefully reviewed the most current research on coffee and cancer and it does not support a cancer warning for coffee. In fact, as our letter to California states, such a warning could mislead consumers to believe that drinking coffee could be dangerous to their health when it actually could provide health benefits,” the FDA says.

“Misleading labelling on food violates the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. No state law can require food to bear a warning that violates federal law.”

The California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, the lead state agency that implements Proposition 65, will make its decision regarding the proposed regulation following a comment period that closed 30 August.

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