Starbucks may have to add a cancer warning to its coffee cups in California

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Starbucks may have to add a cancer warning to its coffee cups in California

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Rafi Letzter/Business Insider

Starbucks coffee could have cancer risks.

  • Starbucks may have to add cancer warnings to its coffee cups in California.
  • A lawsuit, filed in 2010, accused coffee companies of violating state law by not warning consumers that a chemical in their products could cause cancer.
  • Starbucks, along with other chains supported by the National Coffee Association, is considering appealing the case.

Starbucks drinkers in California could expect to see cancer warnings on their coffee cups in the future.

On Wednesday, a Los Angeles judge ruled in favor of a nonprofit that sued 90 coffee companies on the grounds that they have failed to comply with a state law that requires companies to warn consumers about chemicals in their products that could cause cancer, Reuters reported.

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The lawsuit, which was filed by The Council for Education and Research on Toxics in 2010, pointed to a chemical, acrylamide, that exists in brewed coffee beans. Studies in the past have found that acrylamide can, in large quantities, increase the risk of cancer in some animals. It's among the chemicals that California lists as "known to cause cancer."

When reached for comment, Starbucks referred Business Insider to a statement made by the National Coffee Association (NCA) on Thursday:

"The industry is currently considering all of its options, including potential appeals and further legal actions. Cancer warning labels on coffee would be misleading. The US government's own Dietary Guidelines state that coffee can be part of a healthy lifestyle. The World Health Organization (WHO) has said that coffee does not cause cancer. Study after study has provided evidence of the health benefits of drinking coffee, including longevity - coffee drinkers live longer."

According to Reuters, some of the other defendants had already agreed to put warnings on their products and pay millions of dollars in fines before Wednesday's decision. The remaining companies, including Starbucks, McDonald's and Dunkin' Donuts, have until April 10 to file appeals.

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"Coffee has been shown, over and over again, to be a healthy beverage. This lawsuit has made a mockery of Prop 65, has confused consumers, and does nothing to improve public health," Bill Murray, CEO of the National Coffee Association, said in a statement on Thursday.

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