BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - California coffee shops may soon be forced to warn customers about a possible cancer risk linked to their morning jolt of java.
The state keeps a list of chemicals it considers possible causes of cancer, and one of them, acrylamide, is created when coffee beans are roasted.
And under proposition 65 business must warn about the presence of agents that can affect health. "It's gonna be hard to make people give up their morning coffee," said Cynthia Price, owner of Blue Oak Coffee Roasting. Price isn't sure these warning will make people give up their morning jolt. "I think initially it will cause some concern with people until they educate themselves," said Price.
While this chemical is present Dr. Ravi Patel the medical director at the Comprehensive Blood and Cancer Center says that there is about six to ten particles per billion o it is a very small and insignificant amount.
In addition to coffee, acrylamide can be found in potatoes and baked goods like crackers, bread and cookies, breakfast cereal, canned black olives and prune juice, although its presence is not always labeled. It's in some food packaging and is a component of tobacco smoke. According to the National Cancer Institute, people are exposed to "substantially more acrylamide from tobacco smoke than from food."
Local owners don't think that customers will give up their coffee habit, but they might change the way they drink coffee. "It might cause the trend to move away from lighter roasted coffees into darker roast because it's found in less quantity in a darker roast coffee, so I expect to see that," said Price.