California Starbucks Locations Must Display Cancer Warnings

A judge has ruled that, due to a naturally occurring chemical in coffee beans, coffee shops in California must display a cancer warning.

By nowproducerdave on March 30, 2018
(Photo by Bryan Thomas/Getty Images)

This stems back to a lawsuit from 2010, and a Judge has just ruled that Starbucks, as well as other coffee shop locations in California must now display cancer warnings. The reason they have to show a warning now is because of a chemical that is just a “byproduct” of the process of brewing coffee beans.

Let’s back up a little bit though. More than just Starbucks, it’s really any coffee shop in the state of California. Temple, Dutch Brothers, Peet’s – all of them. The chemical in question is called acrylamide. Acrylamide, according to, is:

a chemical used primarily to make substances called polyacrylamide and acrylamide copolymers. Polyacrylamide and acrylamide copolymers are used in many industrial processes, such as the production of paper, dyes, and plastics, and in the treatment of drinking water and wastewater, including sewage. They are also found in consumer products, such as caulking, food packaging, and some adhesives.

Acrylamide is also found in some foods. It can be produced when vegetables that contain the amino acid asparagine, such as potatoes, are heated to high temperatures in the presence of certain sugars (1, 2). It is also a component of tobacco smoke.

No, coffee itself doesn’t cause cancer, but the state of California recognizes acrylamide as a substance that increases the risk of cancer. Starbucks, as well as other coffee shops, were found to be “out of compliance” in reference to the “California Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986.” That document specifies that manufacturers must give a clear warning label when the product contains certain chemicals listed within the document, or that might cause some kind of health concern.

Will the cancer warnings and knowing that coffee contains this chemical make you think twice about stopping to grab a cup on your way to work in the morning? Here are some more details about the chemical, and the Judge’s ruling about having to display a cancer warning.

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