business news in context, analysis with attitude

Yahoo Finance reports that a decade-long battle in California over whether coffee products should be labeled as having a cancer-causing toxin has come to an end, with the California Superior Court tossing a lawsuit originally filed in 2010 by the Council for Education & Research on Toxics (CERT).

CERT, the story says, "argued that a chemical called acrylamide should be included in product warnings, based on research showing that it causes cancer in laboratory animals … The compound is found in roasted, brewed coffee, as well as other commonly cooked foods that are rich in carbohydrates and sugar, such as baked bread, cookies, and especially potato chips. However, the question as to whether coffee poses a risk is unsettled science, as meta-analysis showed no increase in the incidence of cancer in people that consume large quantities of coffee."

According to the story, "the judge agreed that a recent regulation from the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) exempted the companies from having to warn of the risk under the state’s Proposition 65."  The decision "relied on the OEHHA’s determination that the link between java and cancer was not significant enough to require cancer warning labels."

KC's View:

One of the arguments against labeling is that too many labels about carcinogens actually serve to desensitize people to them, which subverts the entire law.  Which is interesting, though I don't entirely buy it … it is built on a presumption that too much information is a bad thing.  That's a dangerous rationale, though one far too common in our culture.

I'm much more in synch with the argument that there isn't enough information to reach the conclusion that coffee can be a carcinogen.  

To which I can only add, thank goodness.