September 03, 2020

Judge Tosses Suit Alleging Coffee-Cancer Link; Starbucks, Dunkin' in the Clear for Now

On August 26, California Superior Court Judge Elihu M. Berle granted Defendants’ motion for summary judgment in the case of Council for Education and Research on Toxics v. Starbucks Corp. et al, ending a 10-year legal battle. Claimants argued that product warnings should include a chemical called acrylamide, which has been shown to cause cancer in laboratory animals. Claimants asserted that the compound is found in roasted and brewed coffee, and that Starbucks and others were in violation of California's Proposition 65 by failing to warn consumers that coffee contains acrylamide. In earlier phases of the dispute, the judge ruled that Starbucks and its co-defendants would have to issue the proposed warning labels. However, Defendant’s argued in the motion for summary judgment that a recent regulation from the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) exempted the companies from the warning requirement under the law. Judge Berle agreed with this argument as well as with a prior determination from OEHHA stating that the link between coffee and cancer was not significant enough to require warning labels.