OEHHA: Prop 65 Listed Chemicals in Coffee Pose No Significant Risk

Proposition 65 is a law in California that requires the state to publish a list of chemicals known to cause cancer or birth defects or other reproductive harm. Acrylamide has been listed as a carcinogen according to Prop 65 since 1990, it is a natural chemical, that occurs in the roasting process for coffee beans. The issue for coffee is that Prop 65 does not focus on the food as a whole, but rather individual chemicals. International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), a division of the World Health Organisation (WHO), studies show that drinking coffee prevents certain cancer.

The Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) has now proposed to add a new section to Article 7 of Title 27 of the California Code of Regulations[1], section 25704, stating that exposures to Proposition 65[2] listed chemicals in coffee that are produced as part of an inherent in the processes of roasting coffee beans and brewing coffee pose no significant risk of cancer.

In response to this proposal, the National Coffee Association (NCA) told a public hearing on 16 August that the weight of scientific evidence, endorsed by the World Health Organization, shows that coffee prevents certain cancers and that coffee drinkers live longer.

Speaking in Sacramento, California at the OEHHA oral hearing on Prop 65 warnings on coffee, NCA CEO and president Bill Murray spoke about the scientific evidence in support of one of America’s favorite drinks. He pointed to the wealth of evidence from the recent the WHO assessment of coffee, which found that coffee is associated with a reduced risk of certain cancers.

The IARC analysed more than 1,000 separate scientific studies and found that not only did coffee not cause cancer but it actually improved the health of those who drank it. “We’ve known about many of the benefits of coffee for some time,” said Murry. “We applaud OEHHA for recognizing this and for moving so rapidly after the publication of the IARC findings.”

Murray pointed out coffee’s immense popularity, noting that Americans consume approximately 150 billion cups of coffee in the US every year. “A recent study of more than half a million people found that those who consume six or seven cups of coffee a day were 16 per cent less likely to die from any disease over a ten-year period than those who never touch it,” he said, adding, “Now that science has so comprehensively established the facts on coffee we believe it is incumbent on regulators to give citizens confidence in what they are consuming.

Any written public comments concerning OEHHA’s proposed regulatory action, regardless of the form or method of transmission, must be received by OEHHA by 5pm on 30 August, the designated close of the written comment period. All comments will be posted on the OEHHA website at the close of the public comment period. Comments may be submitted electronically through our website at https://oehha.ca.gov/comments.

For more information, visit: www.ncausa.org.

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