The Food and Drug Administration has stepped into a simmering debate in California as to whether coffee should come with a cancer warning label.
In March, a judge sided with a nonprofit organization called the Council for Education and Research on Toxics, which argued that coffee contains high levels of acrylamide, a cancer-causing chemical compound produced as beans roast.
Coffee companies didn't deny acrylamide's presence but argued that it was found at low levels that posed no significant health risk and was outweighed by other health benefits. That argument wasn't compelling to Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Elihu Berle.
He ordered coffee companies in California to carry a cancer warning label under Proposition 65, the state's Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act. The law, which requires the state to maintain a list of harmful substances and businesses to notify customers of exposure, has led to both a reduction in carcinogenic chemicals and quick settlements over labels on foods.
On Wednesday, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said in a statement that "if a state law purports to require food labeling to include a false or misleading statement, the FDA may decide to step in."