A judge in Los Angeles ruled Wednesday that coffee sellers must put a cancer warning on coffee sold in California, though the correlation hasn’t been proven true or false by scientists.
The controversy is focused on acrylamide, a carcinogen produced in coffee beans during the roasting process, the Associated Press reported. This chemical compound has been the center of an eight-year long legal battle between a small nonprofit, The Council for Education and Research on Toxins, and “Big Coffee” suppliers, including Starbucks.
In the ruling, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Elihu Berle said that Starbucks and other companies had failed to show there was no significant risk from a carcinogen produced in the roasting process, Reuters reported.
However, the scientific evidence on the benefits and dangers of coffee is not clear. According to the AP, studies have gone back and forth, with some finding the drink more harmful and some claiming that coffee has many benefits. But in 2016, the cancer agency of the World Health Organization removed coffee from its “possible carcinogen” list.
“Cancer warning labels on coffee would be misleading,” The National Coffee Association said in a statement. “The U.S. government’s own Dietary Guidelines state that coffee can be part of a healthy lifestyle. The World Health Organization (WHO) has said that coffee does not cure cancer. Study after study has provided evidence of the health benefits of drinking coffee, including longevity — coffee drinkers live longer.”
The defendants have until April 10 to file objections with the decision.