In 2010, a nonprofit called Education and Research on Toxics filed a lawsuit that demanded coffee sellers, including Starbucks, BP, and 7-Eleven to warn customers about the dangers of ingesting acrylamide, which is potentially a cancer-causing chemical that’s produced when coffee beans are roasted. The coffee industry has acknowledged the presence of the chemical, but asserts it is at harmless levels and the benefits of drinking coffee outweighed the presence of the chemical. Under Proposition 65, known as the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act, passed by voters in 1986, private citizens, advocacy groups and attorneys can sue on behalf of the state and collect a portion of civil penalties. The lawsuit claims that since coffee sellers do not post carcinogen warnings, they are in violation of this policy. Raphael Metzger, the attorney representing the nonprofit, stated,

I’m addicted to coffee, I confess, and I would like to be able to have mine without acrylamide.

It is important to note that acrylamide is a carcinogen found in cooked foods such as French fries and is also a natural byproduct of the coffee roasting process. According to Metzger, at least 13 of the defendants have settled and agreed to give a warning, including recently 7-Eleven. Metzger said the goal of the lawsuit is to force coffee companies to reduce the amount of the chemical to the point where there would be no significant cancer risk. The latest negotiating session was held in Feb. 8, but there was no verdict reached so we might have to wait some more to see what the verdict is in the case.

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