Nanny State Cali Deciding Whether to Slap Warning Label on Coffee


The leftist-dominated state of California has been derisively referred to as a “nanny state” because the government acts as though the population is largely composed of moronic babies who cannot think or act for themselves and need their hands held through every single decision, great or small.

That increasingly accurate label could be bolstered further if a California judge rules in favor of plaintiffs in a lawsuit demanding that coffee be clearly marked with the ubiquitous state warning that the product contains a chemical known to cause cancer, according to The Associated Press.

About 90 defendants in the case, led by Starbucks and including numerous grocery stores and retail chains, are accused of failing to abide by a state law that requires a clear warning be placed on any product, service or location that contains or makes use of any carcinogenic or hazardous materials, no matter the quantity involved.

At issue in this case is a chemical known as acrylamide, a naturally occurring carcinogen that is a byproduct of the coffee roasting process, which is also found in all sorts of other roasted or fried food, such as french fries.

The lawsuit was brought by a group known as the Council for Education and Research on Toxics, and their goal is to force the coffee industry to either remove the chemical, provide explicit warnings against it, or go broke in the process through extreme penalties for non-compliance with the law.

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For a glimpse into the mindset of the sort of people who enable nanny state regulations by refusing to accept responsibility for their own decisions, check out this comment from the group’s lawyer, Raphael Metzger, an admitted three-cups-a-day coffee drinker:

“I’m addicted — like two-thirds of the population. I would like the industry to get acrylamide out of the coffee so my addiction doesn’t force me to ingest it,” Metzger stated. Or, ya know, you could just stop drinking coffee … if it is really that bad.

But according to Legal Insurrection, the real problem is not the naturally occurring acrylamide in coffee, but the state’s Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act, otherwise known as Proposition 65, which was passed into law in 1986 and paved the way for frivolous lawsuits and the ubiquitous cancer warnings now seen on virtually everything.

LI pointed out that Metzger’s group is not new to this game, having teamed up with the state attorney general in the mid-2000s to sue fast food restaurants and potato chip manufacturers and force them to reduce or remove acrylamide in their own products.

Do you think California has gone too far with their cancer warnings about everything?

They also noted that the actual amount of acrylamide in coffee is at such a low level as to pose “no significant risk” of cancer and therefore should be exempt from the labeling law. Indeed, it was estimated that an individual would need to drink upwards of 64 liters (approximately 320 cups) of coffee per day to reach carcinogenic levels of acrylamide.

According to the AP article, that outlook was shared by the defense attorneys, who declined to comment specifically on the case but did point to the exemption under the law which allows for carcinogenic chemicals that are naturally produced as a result of cooking.

“It is hard to imagine a product that could satisfy this exemption if coffee does not,” attorney James Schurz stated in court documents. “The answer to the question of whether Proposition 65 requires coffee to carry a cancer warning must be an emphatic ‘No.'”

Unfortunately, Metzger and his crew already won the first round of this ridiculous battle, as a judge previously ruled that the defense had failed to prove there was “no significant risk” as they couldn’t show that the typical level of the chemical in coffee wouldn’t expose one excess person out of 100,000 to cancer.

Should the judge rule in favor of the plaintiffs and decide to assess civil penalties of $2,500 per exposed person per day, the resultant fines could be outrageously astronomical, given that penalties could reach back eight years and the unknown number of coffee drinkers in a population of 40 million people.

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If you want to know why governments think they can impose nanny state regulations, why our society has become lawsuit-happy and why everything is so expensive — look no further than California, the standard-bearer when it comes to expensive settlements provoked by frivolous lawsuits allowed for by oppressive and misguided regulations … for your own good, of course.

H/T TheBlaze

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Ben Marquis is a writer who identifies as a constitutional conservative/libertarian. He has written about current events and politics for The Western Journal since 2014. His focus is on protecting the First and Second Amendments.
Ben Marquis has written on current events and politics for The Western Journal since 2014. He reads voraciously and writes about the news of the day from a conservative-libertarian perspective. He is an advocate for a more constitutional government and a staunch defender of the Second Amendment, which protects the rest of our natural rights. He lives in Little Rock, Arkansas, with the love of his life as well as four dogs and four cats.
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