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California coffee could soon include cancer warning

Warnings may show up in other states too
Posted at 10:24 PM, Mar 30, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-31 13:59:09-04

Coffee drinkers in California may soon have to read a cancer warning before drinking the popular beverage. 

A judge ruled that coffee sellers in the state should have to post warnings about a chemical found in coffee.

But there's a chance those same warnings might pop up on labels in Wisconsin. Because California is such a large market, it may not be feasible for major coffee companies to create special warning labels just for California. 

Even if the labels show up here, some local coffee drinkers said it wouldn't stop them from drinking it. 

"Probably not because coffee is just so good," said Max Yela. 

The judge's ruling in California stemmed from a 2010 lawsuit filed by a nonprofit group against 90 coffee companies. 

While there's been no scientific proof that coffee causes cancer, a chemical produced during the roasting process is a known carcinogen. 

"We don't know if there's a safe level of acrylamide because we're not even sure there's a connection between acrylamide and cancer in humans," said Dr. John Torres, an NBC News Medical Correspondent. "But what we do know, as with most things, the more you drink, the more problems you're gonna have and so moderation is the key. And with coffee, two to four cups seems to be a fairly safe dose for most people."

The judge's ruling in California isn't yet final. The coffee companies represented have two weeks to challenge it. 

But if it stands, companies could face penalties for not including the warning. 

"California as a state is the most severe in anything," said Marko Damkoehler, a coffee drinker we spoke to at Roast Coffee Company on the East Side. "People could say everything causes cancer. You could eat a pickle and that's going to cause cancer."