In a tweet published on June 3, 2019 California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) announced that its draft Proposition 65 regulation regarding listed carcinogens in coffee had been finalized and will become effective on October 1, 2019. The regulation states that exposures to Proposition 65 carcinogens listed on or before March 15, 2019, which are produced by roasting or brewing coffee, do not pose a significant cancer risk. OEHHA has yet to publish a formal notice on its website.
OEHHA initially proposed the regulation on June 15, 2018, stating in support that extensive scientific research showed not only that drinking coffee did not increase the risk of cancer but that it may reduce the risk of certain types of cancer.
A statement by former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, published after OEHHA’s proposed regulation, communicated FDA’s support for exempting coffee from bearing a Proposition 65 warning. Gottlieb noted that placing a cancer warning on coffee could potentially mislead consumers, as the scientific evidence supports that coffee consumption does not pose a significant risk of cancer.
OEHHA initiated this rulemaking immediately after a ruling in the Los Angeles Superior Court that coffee sellers, including Starbucks, must warn consumers of the presence of acrylamide, a listed carcinogen. The judge held that coffee retailers had not sufficiently demonstrated that the benefits of drinking coffee outweighed the risk from consuming acrylamide, a potentially cancer-causing chemical. It remains to be seen how the final rule will impact the ongoing Starbucks litigation.