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What links Californian Coffee and burnt toast?


Give up? Well both coffee sold, in California, and burnt toast are being blamed for a rise in cases of some forms of cancer.

Recently a California court has ordered that all coffee sold in California must carry a clear cancer warning on the packet or cup. The judge sitting in a Los Angeles court had declared that Starbucks, Costa Coffee and around 90 other coffee sellers had failed to tell customers about a compound called acrylamide, that has potentially toxic effects on the human body and that may lead to some forms of cancer. The same compound is what you find on very darkly burnt pieces of toast incidentally.


The American court’s decision has led to a number of legal cases being raised against coffee chains across California arguing that they should have warned about the potential carcinogenic effects under state law. One of those groups suing is called The Council for Education and Research on Toxics. Superior Court Judge Elihu Berle ruled in favour of the group declaring that the coffee companies should not be exempt from the law as, as he put it, they had failed to prove satisfactorily that the ‘consumption of coffee confers a benefit to human health.”

Acrylamide is produced when starchy products are roasted, grilled or fried for long periods of time at high temperatures.

The American National Coffee Association (NCA) in response to the California Court ruling stated “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.”

This latest alert over coffee comes after the United Nations World Health Organisation in 2016 eased concern over the health impact of coffee when it removed coffee from its list of possible carcinogens. Other research, notably across Europe, indicates a number of health benefits to drinking coffee

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