Tentative ruling could lead to cancer warnings on coffee in California

Your morning cup of coffee could soon come with a cancer warning.

A Los Angeles Superior Court judge tentatively ruled this week that California coffee retailers such as Starbucks and Peet's must warn consumers about a potentially cancer-causing chemical generated during the process of roasting coffee.

Judge Elihu Berle ruled that defendants in the case failed to prove their contention that levels of acrylamide contained in coffee were not harmful, and that the health benefits of drinking coffee outweighed the danger of the chemical.

The nonprofit Council for Education and Research on Toxics filed suit in 2010, claiming that coffee companies were violating California's Proposition 65, which requires warnings about potential exposure to cancer-causing chemicals.

Some smaller companies such as 7-Eleven previously reached settlements in the lawsuit.

The ruling, if finalized, could potentially require cancer warnings on individual cups of coffee, since some coffee shops and stores already have Prop 65 warning notices posted.

It was unclear when Berle might issue a final ruling. Another phase of the case is still pending to determine if companies should be forced to pay financial damages.

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