Saturday, July 21, 2018

Health agency overrules Superior Court judge

California agency is seeking to nullify court ruling about cancer warnings on coffee packaging

Despite a court decision to the contrary, California officials have basically said coffee won't cause cancer.

That unprecedented action by the state's Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment last month was taken after "a review of more than 1,000 studies published…by the World Health Organization that found inadequate evidence that coffee causes cancer," according to a story by Brian Melley of the Associated Press.

The agency's mandate, implementing a law passed by voters in 1986, includes requiring warnings of chemicals known to cause cancer and birth defects. The Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act, better known as Proposition 65, has so far resulted in cautionary labels for about 900 chemicals.

The controversial chemical in coffee, the AP story notes, is acrylamide, "a byproduct of coffee roasting and brewing present in every cup of joe."

Judge Elihu Berle
Melley's article reports that Judge Elihu Berle had ruled, in an eight-year-old lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court, that warnings were required on all coffee packaging sold in the state because "Starbucks and other coffee roasters and retailers had failed to show that benefits from drinking coffee outweighed any cancer risks." 

A proposed regulation by the OEHHA "would state that drinking coffee does not pose a significant cancer risk," the agency reportedly said in a statement.

"Attorney Raphael Metzger, who won the court case on behalf of The Council for Education and Research on Toxics, said he was shocked the agency would move to nullify the court decision and undermine its own report more than a decade ago that drinking even small amounts of coffee resulted in a significant cancer risk," added the AP story. "The takeaway is that the state is proposing a rule contrary to its own scientific conclusion. That's unprecedented and bad. The whole thing stinks to high hell."

More information about cancer risks can be found in "Rollercoaster: How a man can survive his partner's breast cancer," a VitalityPress book I, Woody Weingarten, aimed at male caregivers.

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