Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Tuesday, April 03, 2018

Your Morning Wake-Up

Superior Court judge Elihu Berle said in a proposed decision Wednesday that Starbucks and other coffee companies failed to show the threat from a chemical compound produced in the coffee roasting process was insignificant. (Gregory Bull/Associated Press)
"While plaintiff offered evidence that consumption of coffee increases the risk of harm to the fetus, to infants, to children and to adults, defendants' medical and epidemiology experts testified that they had no opinion on causation."
"Defendants failed to satisfy their burden of proving ... that consumption of coffee confers a benefit to human health."
Judge Elihu Berle, Los Angeles Superior Court

"This lawsuit has made a mockery of Proposition 65, has confused consumers, and does nothing to improve public health."
William Murray, president, CEO, National Coffee Association
Is coffee healthy?
Is Coffee healthy?  CNN

"I firmly believe if the potato chip industry can do it [find a way to manufacture their product by means other than the inclusion of the chemical acrylamide], so can the coffee industry."
"A warning won't be that effective because it's an addictive product."
Raphael Metzger, Lawsuit attorney
Henceforth, in that great, populous and vast nanny-state of California it will be incumbent by law for those selling coffee to post warnings of the carcinogenic effect of coffee. Oh, not the coffee itself, but a chemical produced through the roasting process of the bean, you see! Starbucks Corp. leading the coffee industry pushback in the court case, stated that the presence in coffee of the chemical at the minute levels known to exist pose no risk, is not harmful, and benefits of coffee consumption quite outweigh other concerns.

The Council for Education and Research on Toxics is on the warpath, insisting that the coffee industry take steps to alter its coffee bean processing to remove acrylamide, a precursor to polymers enitrely. When the Council similarly sued potato chip makers years ago, this is just what that industry did. Failing that, it insists that the danger to consumers be disclosed by posting warning signs or labels in full !shocking! view of the consumer. And as it happened, the Council had its persuasive way.

Under a law passed overwhelmingly in 1986 by California voters, consumer protection groups have been enabled to pursue lawsuits calling for  culling cancer-causing chemicals from a wide variety of products. The Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act (Proposition 65) requires that warning labels for some 900 chemicals known to cause cancer or birth defects alert consumers. Advocacy groups can sue on behalf of the state, collecting a portion of civil penalties for their troubles.
Drinking more coffee leads to a longer life, two studies say
Drinking more coffee leads to a longer life, two studies say    CNN

There is no lack of scientific studies concluding that there are definite health benefits associated with drinking coffee. The cancer agency of the World Health Organization removed coffee from its "possible carcinogen" list in 2016, and studies indicating coffee is unlikely to be the cause of breast, prostate or pancreatic cancer have been well publicized. It lowers risks of liver and uterine cancer as well, according to the Agency.

And these positive results from research, along with other research lauding coffee for its heart-healthy effects give coffee producers the comfort and confidence to state in their defence that removing acrylamide from their product would ruin the flavour. The chemical arises when food products are roasted, broiled or fried under high heat, but not boiled. Posted warnings already appear in many coffee shops, but they are placed in obscure, little-noticed areas. Even those that consumers see however, fail to dissuade them from enjoying their coffees.

The coffee industry has the opportunity to challenge the ruling within the next few weeks, but if the ruling is allowed to stand as is, stiff financial penalties could become an uncomfortable reality where the judge would be able to set another phase of trial relating to civil penalties up to $2,500 per person exposed daily over an eight-year period -- representing an astronomical cost to a potential 40 million Californians.

For many coffee lovers, it's difficult to take the situation seriously: "It's like cigarettes. Like, damn, now I've got to see this? Dude, I'm enjoying my coffee", said Los Angeles lawyer, Darlington Ibekwe. "I just don't think it would stop me", Jen Bitterman, a digital marketing technologist commented. "I love the taste, I love the ritual, I love the high, the energy, and I think I'm addicted to it."

A Los Angeles judge has ruled that California law requires coffee companies to carry a cancer warning label. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

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