Longstanding suit against possible cancer perils in coffee may be resolved by year's end
Will coffee labels in California soon warn about cancer risks?
Perhaps — at least if Long Beach attorney Raphael Metzger has his way.
A judge finally is expected to rule before the end of the year on the lawsuit he filed way back in 2010 — against companies such as Starbucks and 7-Eleven, based on Proposition 65, a 1986 law that requires items containing the chemical to have warning labels.
That suit, not incidentally, followed another by the attorney and his Metzger Law Group, one that he filed against fast-food companies in 2002 "contending that french fries also contained the hazardous ingredient," the story notes.
The current suit, on behalf of the Council for Education and Research on Toxics, offers an alternative request to the java labels — have the manufacturers "reduce the acrylamide content of their coffee products to safe levels."
But the National Coffee Association offers this defense: "There is no evidence that coffee causes cancer."
On its website, it says coffee "is a complex beverage (both compositionally and culturally) — and it's much, much more than just one of its elements. Pretending otherwise does not serve public interest in any way."
Meanwhile, CNN writer Jen Christenen has reported that at least 13 of the defendants have settled and agreed to give a warning, most recently 7-Eleven.
Private mediation with some of the remaining retailers, she contends, has been slated.
At a bench trial last fall, Christenen writes, "the coffee companies argued that the level of acrylamide in coffee should be considered safe under the law and that the health benefits of coffee essentially outweigh the risk."
Her story quotes Metzger on a personal level: "I'm addicted to coffee, I confess, and I would like to be able to have mine without acrylamide."
Christenen also points out that "in addition to coffee, acrylamide can be found in potatoes and baked good like crackers, bread and cookies, breakfast cereal, canned black olives and prune juice, although its presence is not always labeled."
A Bloomberg article indicates that the lawyer's initial complaint "grew to include about 90 coffee producers, distributors and retailers, from mom-and-pop roasters to multinationals such as Nestle."
That piece also stated his complaint had "alleged that a 12-ounce cup of coffee contains about 10 times more acrylamide than the state's 'no significant risk level.'"
Metzger's nine-attorney law group, according to its website, was founded in 1987 and "is a boutique firm whose practice is concentrated on the litigation of toxic tort and environmental exposure cases in the state of California."
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