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Don't Misunderstand the Prop 65 Coffee Ruling


Press coverage of a recent, high-profile preliminary decision under California's Proposition 65 law may prompt readers to a simple, erroneous conclusion: "Coffee causes cancer." In reality, the decision made no such finding, and while, if the decision stands, its practical impact could be big for coffee makers, a careful understanding of the narrow basis of the ruling is important for coffee consumers and for all manner of product-based companies doing business in California.

On March 28, 2018, Judge Elihu Berle issued a preliminary decision in favor of the plaintiffs in Council for Education and Research on Toxics v. Starbucks Corp. et al.[1] In that case, the plaintiffs alleged that the defendants, sellers of ready-to-drink coffee, failed to warn consumers that the coffee exposed them to a known carcinogen — acrylamide — in violation of California's Proposition 65.

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" Don't Misunderstand the Prop 65 Coffee Ruling," by Erika Schulz, George Gigounas, and Nelson Lam was published in Law360 on April 19, 2018.