The Acrylamide Legal Threat is Being Met by a Unified Response from the NCA
A unified response by the coffee roasting industry is being facilitated by the National Coffee Association of USA to meet the litigation threat under Proposition 65 of the state of California.
According to a bulletin being circulated by NCA president and chief executive Robert F. Nelson, “Notice of a potential lawsuit has been served on 40 roasters, and even those not named are receiving ‘demand for indemnity’ letters from retailers who carry their products.”
The bulletin also stated, “The consequences could be staggering — consumer warnings that coffee may cause cancer, and fines of up to $2,500 a day per violation for failing to post warnings to date.”
Called by its sponsors as the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act, Proposition 65 was passed in 1986 by voter initiative. Among the provisions include the requirement that “no person in the course of doing business shall knowingly and intentionally expose any individual to a chemical known to the state to cause cancer or reproductive toxicity without first giving clear and reasonable warning to such individual…”
It also identified a protein breakdown called acrylamide, which is “known to cause cancer,” on the basis of experiments performed on laboratory animals.
NCA observed that in 2002, Swedish scientists discovered that acrylamide is produced during the “Maillard reaction,” which happens when a lot of proteins are heated. The Maillard reaction causes the food to brown, producing many of the flavors formed in a broad variety of foods by cooking.
The same is produced when roasting coffee, an occurrence that has incited the current alarm on the roasters’ part, who received a number of “demand for indemnity” letters.