May 19, 2019

May 17, 2019

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California Coffee May No Longer Require Cancer Warnings

  • On June 15, 2018, California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) proposed a new regulation clarifying that cancer warnings are not required for coffee under Proposition 65. Proposition 65 is a right-to-know law that requires businesses to provide warnings when they knowingly cause exposures to chemicals that the state has listed as causing cancer or reproductive harm. However, the statute does not require cancer warnings when exposure to listed chemicals does not cause a significant cancer risk.

  • OEHHA’s proposed regulation states that drinking coffee does not pose a significant cancer risk, despite the presence of acrylamide created during the roasting and brewing process. OEHHA’s proposed regulation is based on extensive scientific evidence that drinking coffee has not been shown to increase the risk of cancer and may reduce the risk of some types of cancer. For example, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) concluded that there is “inadequate evidence” that drinking coffee causes cancer. IARC found that coffee is associated with reduced risk for cancers of the liver and uterus, and does not cause cancers of the breast, pancreas and prostate.

  • This proposed regulation is in direct contrast to the March court ruling previously discussed on this blog. In Council for Education and Research on Toxics (CERT) v. Starbucks, et al., Los Angeles Superior Judge Elihu Berle ruled that sellers of coffee must display cancer warnings because coffee contains acrylamide, which is listed as a carcinogen under Proposition 65. OEHHA’s proposed regulation may lead to calls for a reevaluation of studies on the cancer implications of acrylamide in other foods, like baked goods.

  • Public comment on the proposed regulation will be accepted until August 30, 2018.  Additionally, OEHHA will hold a public hearing on August 16.

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Keller and Heckman offers global food and drug services to its clients. Our comprehensive and extensive food and drug practice is one of the largest in the world. We promote, protect, and defend products made by the spectrum of industries regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the European Commission and Member States authorities in the European Union (EU) and similar authorities throughout the world. The products we help get to market include foods, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, veterinary products, dietary supplements, and cosmetics. In addition...