FDA supports exemption of coffee from California’s cancer warning law

USA – The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has said it supports the proposed regulation that exempts coffee from a Proposition 65 that demands cancer warning on a number of products.

In a letter to the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, FDA said the move follows a careful review of the most current research on coffee and cancer.

The agency said such a warning could mislead consumers to believe that drinking coffee could be dangerous to their health when it actually could provide health benefits.

According to Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, including a misleading warning label on food could be a violation of the federal law.

“The FDA previously wrote to California stating our concerns about acrylamide warnings for foods because such warnings may mislead consumers about the risks posed by foods containing acrylamide and encourage consumers to alter their diets in ways that may not benefit their health.

A prime example is whole grain foods.

We recognize that some of these products may contain acrylamide, but we also know that consumption of whole grains is beneficial for health and nutrition. Labeling whole grain foods with a cancer warning may cause American consumers to avoid foods that would have a benefit to their health, including avoiding foods that may reduce cancer risks,” read FDA’s letter in part.

Court ruling

A California in March ruled that coffee sold in California should be labeled with cancer warnings because of the presence of a chemical called acrylamide.

Under Proposition 65, California requires that certain products contain cancer warnings if they will expose consumers to chemicals that California health authorities have identified as causing cancer.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Elihu Berle said coffee makers hadn’t presented the proper grounds at trial to prevail.

Cancer risk puzzle

Acrylamide is a chemical produced in the bean roasting process that is a known carcinogen and has been at the heart of an eight-year legal struggle between a tiny non-profit group and Big Coffee.

Scientists and researchers have not been able to place ‘agreeable’ evidence on whether drinking coffee could lead to cancer risks or not.

Years back, the Council for Education and Research on Toxics wanted the coffee industry to remove acrylamide from its processing just like potato chip makers did when it sued them years ago, or disclose the danger in ominous warning signs or labels.

A lawsuit against Starbucks and other 90 companies indicated that consumption of coffee increases the risk of harm to the foetus, infants, children and even to the adults.

But leaders in the industry, led by Starbucks said the level of the chemical in coffee isn’t harmful and any risks are outweighed by their benefits to human health.

Strong and consistent evidence shows that in healthy adults, moderate coffee consumption is not associated with an increased risk of major chronic diseases, such as cancer, or premature death, and some evidence suggests that coffee consumption may decrease the risk of certain cancers.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Agriculture state that moderate coffee consumption (three to five cups a day or up to 400 mg/day of caffeine) can be incorporated into healthy eating patterns.

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