A future cup of coffee in California could give you jitters before you even take a sip. A nonprofit group wants coffee manufacturers, distributors, and retailers to post ominous warnings about a cancer-causing chemical stewing in every brew and has been presenting evidence in a Los Angeles courtroom to make its case. The long-running lawsuit from the Council for Education and Research on Toxics, which resumed Monday, claims Starbucks and about 90 other companies, including grocery stores and retail shops, failed to follow a state law requiring warning signs about hazardous chemicals found everywhere from household products to workplaces to the environment.
At the center of the dispute is acrylamide, a carcinogen found in cooked foods such as French fries that is also a natural byproduct of the coffee roasting process. The coffee industry has acknowledged the presence of the chemical but asserts it is at harmless levels and is outweighed by benefits from drinking coffee, the AP reports. The lawyer taking on Big Coffee says the larger goal is to motivate the industry to remove the chemical from coffee, which would also benefit his own three-cup-a-day fix. "I'm addicted—like two-thirds of the population," attorney Raphael Metzger says. "I would like the industry to get acrylamide out of the coffee so my addiction doesn't force me to ingest it." (Read more coffee stories.)