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Odd Judgment: California Coffee Shops Must Post Cancer Warnings

The numerous courts in our country work on tons of cases everyday. Judges, on the other hand, decide on the ruling for each case which lead to a varied number of implications. This time, a peculiar case has gotten the attention of the media, especially from the coffee shop industry in California. How so? The judge’s seemingly odd decision adds to the list of coffee shop guidelines. And its a rather odd one.

The coffee story

Coffee is central to the identities of the working class. It boosts energy levels throughout the day and keeps you alert while doing your job. Coffee is also a staple in the work environment to help stimulate workers and improve work performance. The list of benefits that coffee has to offer can go on and on and let’s leave that to the experts.

Coffee as a central part of the working environment

The fast-paced work environments and urbanized cities have an effect on our diet. In terms of coffee, most working individuals get their serving from coffee shops. These always-in-a-rush people save time when dropping by coffee shops to get their regular fix. In addition, instead of relying on the regular coffee at the office, some groups purchase coffee from stores during meetings which can save them the pre-meeting hassles.

Other than those in the work force, coffee also brings individuals together. Friends can hang out in coffee shops to talk and share experiences together while sipping their favorite blends. Even students benefit from coffee shops when they have nowhere else to go. Of course, purchasing coffee is a must if they want to utilize the coffee shop space. Needless to say, coffee has become a mode of establishing relationships among individuals in the modern world.

Additional rules to obey

Coffee shops in California have been mandated by the new judgment: inform customers of cancer risks posed by coffee. Superior Court Judge Elihu Berle said in his decision that coffee companies have failed to obey a state law that demands businesses to warn their customers about chemicals in their brews that can harm the customers’ health. This decision was a result of an 8 year legal battle between a nonprofit organization and the industry.


Coffee is said to contain harmful cancer-causing acrylamide

The Council for Education and Research on Toxics sued to have the coffee industry remove the substance Acrylamide from coffee. In case you didn’t know, acrylamide is a chemical produced when coffee beans are roasted and then used in beverages. While it was classified as a weak carcinogen, the organization deemed the carcinogenic chemical bears harmful effects to its consumers in the long term. Another option provided was to post warnings in coffee shops that their coffee products contain such chemical that may harm an individuals’ health.

In the duration of the litigation, the coffee companies went on the defence that the level of acrylamide in their coffee is not harmful. Furthermore, these companies claim that the benefits found in coffee outweigh the negative effects. However, judge Berle found the companies to have failed in satisfying the burden of proof.

Action Taken

Acrylamide warning signs in Starbucks California

Starbucks along with other 90 coffee shops were given the chance to challenge the ruling before finalization. Coffee companies expressed that it is not feasible to remove acrylamide from coffee without a change in its taste. Lawyers in the lawsuit say otherwise. These individuals cite the case of the potato chip business. A few years ago, the same organization pulled the same move on the industry. As a response, manufacturers affected by the lawsuit removed the said chemical from their products. In the same light, the National Coffee Association has questioned health claims on acrylamide as a harmful chemical. The association also maintains that coffee is a healthy beverage with many benefits outweighing health risks.

In the mean time, coffee shops around California have already put up signs in their stores to inform customers of the health risks of drinking coffee. Starbucks and 7-Eleven joins the list of stores that began putting up warning signs. The signage talks about acrylamide as a cancer-causing chemical found in coffee.

The coffee industry

How will this move affect customers and coffee companies?

Businesses have adjusted to the ways of their customers. Today, coffee shops are popularized through the number of customers that go in and out of their shops. And the industry seems to be founded on a solid rock of the consumers’ demand for coffee. The debate on whether coffee is harmful or not may still have a long way to go. This may mean that posting the health-risk signage in coffee shops still has an unpredictable effect on the demand for coffee. But we all know the silver lining here: prevention is better than cure and prevention starts with awareness.

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