A California nonprofit is suing Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts, and other big coffee chains over cancer warning labels on drinks. The group, Council for Education and Research on Toxins (CERT), claims the caffeinated brown stuff these companies sell to millions of sleepy customers every day contains a carcinogen called acrylamide. But don’t panic just yet!
If you’ve never heard of acrylamide, it’s a chemical that shows up in certain kinds of food cooked above 120 degrees Celsius. (Like, say, coffee beans.) CERT says that under California’s proposition 65, the coffee sold by the big chains should include warning labels clearly stating that the coffee includes chemicals linked to cancer. Under the proposition, which was established in 1986, CERT is calling on a minimum fine of $2,500 a day for each of the companies named.
Except, CERT might not have that strong of a case on its hands. Stanley Omaye, a professor of nutrition and toxicology at the University of Nevada, tells Chemistry World that, based on acrylamide studies conducted on animals, “you would have to drink probably over 100 cups of coffee a day in order to get to that dangerous dose, so it is totally absurd.”
Omaye contends that CERT’s findings fail to account for other chemicals found in coffee that may counteract acrylamide’s toxicity, and that the mere presence of the chemical should not be a cause for alarm. So keep on ordering those pumpkin spice lattes! (Or don’t.)