Your daily cup of joe could soon come with a scary warning. A California judge ruled last week that coffee needs a cancer warning label in the Golden State, and coffee retailers are understandably upset.
If you're already worrying about whether or not your favorite morning ritual will give you cancer, take a deep breath. The National Coffee Association argued in a statement that "cancer warning labels on coffee would be misleading."
A 2016 World Health Organization report said there's "no conclusive evidence" that drinking coffee causes cancer. It did say that drinking coffee — or any beverage for that matter — extremely hot can cause cancer of the esophagus. The recommended temperature is below 150 degrees, so it's probably best to let your coffee cool down for a few minutes before diving in.
The recent California ruling was related to a lawsuit filed by the nonprofit Council for Education and Research on Toxics claiming Starbucks and other coffee companies weren't warning customers that drinking their coffee meant exposing themselves to acrylamide, a chemical that forms when during the roasting process. The judge ruled that coffee retailers failed to prove that the chemical didn't pose a threat for coffee drinkers.
Acrylamide, which is found in plant foods such as potatoes and coffee, is listed as a chemical that requires a warning label in California. However, you probably won't see warning labels just yet. Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts, and other coffee chains that belong to the National Coffee Association will likely appeal in order to keep serving drinks without a warning of potential death.
"Coffee has been shown, over and over again, to be a healthy beverage," said William Murray, president and CEO of the National Coffee Association, in a statement. The same statement said the group is "considering all of its options," including further legal action.
Although a cancer warning label might not stop you from downing a cup of coffee (or three) every morning, it could be bad for business. No one wants to be reminded of their mortality first thing in the morning.