California Agency Says Coffee Doesn't Need a Cancer Warning

(Bloomberg) -- Starbucks Corp. and other coffee retailers are looking to get a reprieve in a legal battle over whether they need to post warnings in California that a cup of java contains chemicals known to cause cancer.

The California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment proposed Friday to exempt coffee from a state regulation that require businesses to warn consumers about carcinogens in their products.

“OEHHA has determined that exposures to Proposition 65-listed chemicals in coffee that are produced as part of and inherent in the processes of roasting coffee beans and brewing coffee pose no significant risk of cancer,” the agency said. “The proposed regulation would clarify this determination.”

Starbucks, Target Corp., 7-Eleven Inc. and Whole Foods Market are among dozens coffee makers and sellers who for more than six years have been fighting, and losing, a lawsuit over their alleged failure to comply with the state’s required warnings.

The companies in April failed to convince a state court judge in Los Angeles that “sound considerations of public health” support an exemption from California’s Prop. 65 warning for the chemical acrylamide in coffee. The companies could be on the hook for as much as $2,500 in penalties for each cup of cup of coffee sold without warning.

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