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Judge rules coffee sold in California must carry cancer warnings

A Superior court, Judge Elihu Berle, ruled on 7 May that Starbucks and other roasters and retailers had failed to show that benefits from drinking coffee outweighed any risks from a carcinogen, a byproduct of the roasting process.

The ruling comes after American non-profit organisation, The Council for Education and Research on Toxics, announced in March it was suing leading coffee retailers in California over its claims that their products should carry cancer warnings where chemicals that can cause cancer are present.

The lawsuit, which has been brought against about 90 leading companies including Starbucks, centres on the presence of a chemical called acrylamide, a known carcinogen that is a by-product of the roasting process.

Coffee industry representatives argue that while acrylamide is present, it is at such low levels that it is harmless.

The final ruling, as reported by The Guardian, clears the way for the Council for Education and Research on Toxics to seek a permanent injunction that would lead to warning labels or an industry commitment to remove the chemical from their product.

In 2008 a similar suit succeeded in forcing potato chip makers to remove the chemical from their products.

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