At the Grocery Manufacturers Association Science Forum in Washington DC last week, I shared lessons from Red Flag’s extensive work in managing the fallout of Geneva bureaucrats using questionable science to declare that every cup of coffee and every slice of bacon on the breakfast table can cause cancer.
I noted that for products subjected to evaluation by the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the outcome can be like regulatory malaria – the initial illness lays you low and, even worse, the symptoms keep coming back over and over again.
Sure enough, just a day later, both coffee and meat were hit with a new round of vicious symptoms. IARC published its final report putting processed meat, like Parma Ham, in the same cancer category as cigarettes and asbestos, and a California judge ruled that coffee must carry a cancer warning label.
The coffee case is particularly outrageous, since the best available evidence proves coffee drinkers have longer and healthier lives than those who don’t consume coffee. Even IARC agreed in 2017 that it did not have evidence to support a conclusion that coffee can contribute to cancer. The closest it actually came to a statistically significant finding was that it can help prevent some cancers.
There is overwhelming evidence that the benefits of coffee drinking (which protects against heart disease, diabetes and cancer) far outweigh any impact from the miniscule amounts of a naturally occuring chemical – acrylamide – found in the drink. Coffee drinkers live longer. Nevertheless, last week’s court decision paves the way for misleading cancer warning labels on the millions of cups brewed and served every day in California.
Because California’s Proposition 65 requires cancer labels on any product the state believes causes cancer, without regard to actual risk, these false labels will actually scare consumers away from a drink that improves health.
No one will benefit from this outcome except the trial lawyers and bounty hunters collecting the majority of fines and settlements arising from frivolous application of Proposition 65’s deeply flawed requirements.
It’s time for Californian consumers, political leaders, and businesses to stand up against this harmful proposition. It’s been clear for years that Proposition 65 is irrational, but now it actually stands to take years off real people’s lives.