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California may declare coffee a “cancer risk”

California may declare coffee a “cancer risk”

State’s Proposition 65 rules brew trouble for small businesses, such as coffee shops.

In 1986, California’s Proposition 65 (the Safe Drinking Water & Toxic Enforcement Act) was passed, placing restrictions on toxic discharges into drinking water and required that people be notified who were exposed to carcinogens and reproductive toxins.


While the idea sounded wonderful at the time, the implementation of the rules has created a plethora of warning labels that get ignored and an astonishing number of revenue-generating lawsuits targeting businesses selling products that contain trace amounts of substances unlikely to be harmful, given the dose and the typical use situation of the consumer.

Because coffee contains a trace amount of a chemical known as acrylamide (“known to the State of California to cause cancer, birth defects, or other reproductive harm”), it may be subject to these warnings and the coffee sellers may be facing fines:

A judge in California will soon decide whether coffee should carry warnings stating that it contains chemicals known to the state to cause cancer.

A long-running lawsuit that claims Starbucks and about 90 other companies, including grocery stores and retail shops, failed to follow a state law requiring warning signs about hazardous chemicals found everywhere from household products to workplaces to the environment.

At the center of the dispute is acrylamide, a carcinogen found in cooked foods such as French fries that is also a natural byproduct of the coffee roasting process. The coffee industry has acknowledged the presence of the chemical but asserts it is at harmless levels and is outweighed by benefits from drinking coffee.

A verdict in favor of the little-known Council for Education and Research on Toxics could send a jolt through the industry with astronomical penalties possible and it could wake up a lot of consumers, though it’s unclear what effect it would have on coffee-drinking habits.

It turns out that this is not the “Council for Education and Research on Toxics” first legal rodeo, either.

Council for Education and Research on Toxics (CERT) v. McDonald’s and Burger King. In 2002, the Metzger Law Group filed the first Proposition 65 case regarding acrylamide on behalf of the Council for Education and Research on Toxics to require fast food companies such as McDonald’s and Burger King to warn consumers of the acrylamide hazard in french fries.

Eventually the California Attorney General joined the suit and the Metzger Law Group co-litigated the case with the Attorney General. After 6 years of litigation and several months of expert depositions, the case settled in 2008 when McDonald’s and Burger King agreed to provide cancer hazard warnings regarding acrylamide in their french fries, agreed to pay civil penalties to CERT and the Attorney General, and paid attorney’s fees to the Metzger Law Group for protecting public health.

As a result of this lawsuit, fast food companies in California now give consumers such cancer hazard warnings regarding acrylamide in french fries. The lawsuit also prompted potato chip manufacturers such as Frito Lay to improve their production process to reduce the acrylamide content of their potato chips to safe levels.

The lawyer spear-heading the attack on “Big Coffee” is pursuing the case for entirely noble reasons.

“I’m addicted — like two-thirds of the population,” attorney Raphael Metzger said. “I would like the industry to get acrylamide out of the coffee so my addiction doesn’t force me to ingest it.”

I would argue that CERT is addicted to the monies they get in the civil penalties.

The biggest problem with the implementation of Proposition 65 is that the level of “no significant risk” is difficult to define. As an example, what is the actual dose of acrylamide in coffee?

You need to drink 64 liters of roasted coffee brew a day to reach carcinogenic levels. Safe daily intake level of acrylamide before neurotoxic level is even higher at 40 μg/kg per day, equivalent to 6222 cups or 995 liters of roasted coffee brew a day. As you can see, the acrylamide levels found in coffee are safe.

I consume a lot of coffee while I blog, but I have yet to hit 64 liters daily.

What is really toxic is the effect of Proposition 65 on small businesses, as explained in this video.

I guess when the coffee shops close, Californians can head over to the pot-shop for the carcinogen-free marijuana.

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Comments

Starbucks is going to feel so betrayed.

Step 1. Regime change in NK
Step 1a. Crazy Kim lobs a nuke with Loral guidance (provided by China), which might possibly survive re-entry and detonate, maybe. Guidance system sold by Bill Clinton at least guarantees it goes boom over LA.
Step 2. FEMA informs CA that they have only 13 transgender people of color to serve them, all of whom are at a conference about post-colonial social constructs. They are also the only staff authorized to work this event.
Step 3. Remind California that they are a former colony of Mexico, and they should ask Mexico for assistance.

Step 4. Set out of office auto-reply for all requests coming from California.

Coffee actually is chock full of antioxidants. Science, dude.

Bucky Barkingham | January 30, 2018 at 9:39 am

“The State of California has determined that birth is the leading cause of death, with a 100% correlation found between the two events.”

I heard that it was tomatoes that were the leading cause of death.

It seems solid – EVERYBODY that died yesterday had consumed tomatoes or tomato-derived foods such as ketchup.

Please hit my GoFundVillians page. My current Evil Plan ™ is a “laser” that will trigger the Big One and send then west coast crashing into the sea.

Also looking for a new female sidekick. Brunettes preferred but no superpowers above Tier 2. No capes or stiletto heels either please.

While the idea sounded wonderful at the time, the implementation of the rules has created a plethora of warning labels that get ignored and an astonishing number of revenue-generating lawsuits targeting businesses selling products that contain trace amounts of substances unlikely to be harmful, given the dose and the typical use situation of the consumer.

The idea did not sound wonderful at the time, and this is not some sort of unintended consequence.

Prop 65 was explicitly based on rejecting the most fundamental principle of toxicology, that the dose makes the poison. It was explicitly based on the false idea that if something is very harmful in large doses then it’s a little harmful in small ones, and that people have a meaningful right to keep themselves completely free of any dose of any substance that is believed to be harmful at some level.

The goal was to force manufacturers to waste billions of dollars on the completely useless project of trying to eliminate all harmful substances from their products, no matter how harmless or even beneficial those substances are at the level present in the product.

Because the truth is that there is no substance in the world that is not fatal at some dose, but there is also no substance in the world that is not beneficial at some dose.

    alaskabob in reply to Milhouse. | January 30, 2018 at 1:41 pm

    The plan was (is) to extrapolate high dose exposure back down to the ultralow levels of exposure. Hence, second hand smoke smelled at 100 feet away is more deadly (proportionally) than first hand smoke. There is solace that they can say one can not prove them wrong at very low doses. There are areas of the world that have background radiation higher than exposure limits for radiation workers but hard to prove dangerous or not. If they really understood how many small critters we have in and on us and that the world is covered with a thin layer of doo-doo they would go full Howard Hughs.

      Milhouse in reply to alaskabob. | January 30, 2018 at 3:37 pm

      The plan was (is) to extrapolate high dose exposure back down to the ultralow levels of exposure.

      Yes, as I said the whole thing is based on the false notion that if something is very harmful in large doses then it’s a little harmful in small ones. That if it will kill 10% of the exposed population at a dose of 10g each, then it will kill 1% at a dose of 1g, 0.1% at a dose of 100mg, and 0.0001% at a dose of 100μg. Which is nuts. Ultralow doses of strong poisons aren’t simply much less harmful, they’re harmless, or even beneficial.

        alaskabob in reply to Milhouse. | January 30, 2018 at 6:22 pm

        Amoeba removed from all radiation… die. One of the driving forces of mutation (good and bad) is background radiation. Also, taking a look at the overall population… the added cancers for being nuked at Hiroshima or Nagasaki was only several dozen. Netflix has the story of one of the double nuke survivors… what a bite…. get nuked at Hiroshima, go home to Nagasaki and nuked again. Groundhog Day meets science fission.

I remember the comedy from California labeling while working in a Chemistry lab. Grab a bottle of Corn Oil, ‘Known to the State of California to be a cancer causing agent.’

Starbucks has had the prop 65 signs up for years already due to lawsuits. Every time I put half and half in my coffee I look up and see the sign telling me the State knows coffee causes cancer.

Everytime I read stories like this, I have this mental fantasy image of the actual court case going like this:

Will the counsel for CERT please approach the bench. Put your hands on the table, please.

*SMACK!* Owww! Owww!!

Case dismissed. And if you try this kind of crap in my courtroom again, I won’t just used a ruler on your knuckles.

We need more former nuns as judges.

buckeyeminuteman | January 30, 2018 at 12:03 pm

I wouldn’t really care what Failifornia forces companies to put on their labels, if only those labels weren’t then applied to all products sold nationwide. I hung a framed picture from Hobby Lobby in my child’s room this weekend and the back had a California cancer label. How asinine is that? Seems like their lawmakers are overlooking the biggest cancer affecting our great nation; themselves.

California, perpetually in search of new and improved ways of shooting itself in the foot….

    Only as long as the bullet carries a label that says the lead and copper contained therein are known to the state of California to cause cancer. 😉

The Friendly Grizzly | January 30, 2018 at 12:10 pm

Topping all this off: coffee is made with dihydrogen monoxide.

    Not only that, dihydrogen monoxide is the most addictive substance known to science! Once a person has had it, in any form, they will have to have it in regular doses for the rest of their lives! To try to break that addiction results in slow death!

Seems obvious to me … coffee, french fries, fried/baked potatoes & chips (including Pringles), Fritos, bread, biscuits, cookies, wafers and serials (including Cheerios) MUST be banned from California.

According to the State of California (Jerry Brown Governor) ..

COFFEE CAN KILL YOU !!!

Know your place, peasants.

Are they forcing the head shops to put labels on rolling papers yet? If not, why not?

California should simply issue cards to each of its residents, to be carried upon one’s person at all times, that simply state: “Life — It’s Dangerous for You.” This would at least eliminate the need to constantly issue warning labels for every product and activity under the Sun.

    alaskabob in reply to guyjones. | January 30, 2018 at 1:43 pm

    California is truly dangerous to your health, wealth and sanity. Granola theory of California… get rid of the fruits and nuts and you still have the flakes.

notamemberofanyorganizedpolicital | January 30, 2018 at 1:58 pm

California may declare California is a “cancer risk” – there, fixed it for California!

Dems would never do that to Starbucks!! They don’t care about small businesses. But STARBUCKS, NO WAY!!

It’s one day going to be discovered that the neurosis of Proposition 65 causes cancer.

Example:

Millenials suffering from typical millenial mental health issues claim being called ‘snowflakes’ causes mental heath issues:
http://boston.cbslocal.com/2017/12/07/millennials-snowflakes-study/

The concept that carcinogenic risks differ from other toxicity risks is not entirely illegitimate, as there’s evidence that there is truly no threshold below which carcinogenic risk falls to absolute zero.

And this, unfortunately, can combine with people’s poor evaluation of an extremely small risk that nonetheless has a severely adverse consequence.

And so, if you asked people what they’d pay to avoid a one-in-one-hundred-trillion chance of contracting cancer, many would pay significant sums to do so. Even though your chance of dying of that cancer (instead of something else would shorten your life expectancy by perhaps a millisecond or so.

An airline flight exposes passengers to about 0.003 millisieverts of ionizing radiation per hour and that, too, will increase cancer risk- perhaps significantly, if you spend much of your life in the air. Yet no one is demanding airliners have sufficient shielding so as to reduce this risk to no more than it would have been had you stayed on the ground. For the same reason, living in Denver (or even visiting there!) exposes one to excess RADIATION because of its altitude, yet somehow I doubt many consider this factor when chosing where to live (or when to go outside).

In short, the madness here lies not in claiming that the risk exists but in demanding that it must be zero (or as close to zero as possible, regardless of the cost). And in insisting that you must be informed of a risk When, compared with all the other risks in your life, that risk surely is insignificant.

The root of the problem is that when the potential consequence is severe, human psychology has tremendous difficulty computing the risk as “insignificant,” no matter how small its probability. Yet surely we are sufficiently self-aware to avoid this “zero tolerance for cancer risk” ideocy in public policy?

Umm, well, maybe not.

    alaskabob in reply to Albigensian. | January 30, 2018 at 6:24 pm

    Living in Denver more radiation than 1 mile downwind from Three Mile Island with the meltdown for the same length of year.

    You’re probably more likely to die in a plane crash — a VERY low-probability event — than develop cancer that can be traced back to the slightly-elevated exposure to ionizing radiation, but they don’t want to talk about that.

    They’ll also inform you that the foam padding in your car seat almost certainly contains materials known to the State of California to cause cancer … but not that you have, on average, a 1-in-125 chance of getting in to a traffic accident any time you drive*.

    I for one am very interested to know the overall effect CERT’s work has had on public health. Have cancer rates in California dropped any statistically significant amount after Prop 65 was enacted? Or is the government burdening businesses for nothing?

    My money would be on “no effect” if I were a betting man … and if the ink used in dollar bills weren’t known to the State of California to cause cancer. 😉

    ——
    * – I distinctly remember reading this in an academic paper or reference material of some kind, but I’ll be damned if I could find it now or tell you the methodology they used to reach it.

You need to drink 64 liters of roasted coffee brew a day to reach carcinogenic levels. Safe daily intake level of acrylamide before neurotoxic level is even higher at 40 μg/kg per day, equivalent to 6222 cups or 995 liters of roasted coffee brew a day.

And let’s not even consider that drinking 64 liters (~16 gallons) of anything in one day is physically and physiologically impossible, let alone 995 liters (~250 gallons).

As you can see, the acrylamide levels found in coffee are safe.

I think the point CERT is trying to make is that no level of anything is “safe”.

They’re trying to NERF the world, but can’t because NERF foam rubber contains materials known to the State of California to cause cancer.

If coffee is bad for you….then life ain’t worth living!!!!!!!!

    Amen!

    Ditto for bacon, good beer, and a thousand other things whose very existence I take as proof that there is a God who loves us and wants us to be happy.

Lessee, no drinking coffee with a straw in the lunatic left coast formerly know as California.

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