In an earlier phase of trial, the judge ruled companies hadn’t shown the threat from the chemical was insignificant, the news agency said, explaining the coffee industry had argued the chemical should be exempt from state law.
The court decision stemmed from a lawsuit filed in 2008 by the Council for Education and Research on Toxics, a non-profit in California, NPR’s The Two Way pointed out.
“While plaintiff offered evidence that consumption of coffee increases the risk of harm to the fetus, to infants, to children and to adults, defendants’ medical and epidemiology experts testified that they had no opinion on causation,” NPR quoted Superior Court Judge Elihu Berle. “Defendants failed to satisfy their burden of proving by a preponderance of evidence that consumption of coffee confers a benefit to human health.”
The National Coffee Association said roasted coffee naturally contains trace amounts of acrylamide, one of roughly 800 chemicals listed under California’s Proposition 65—officially known as the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986.
“Coffee has been shown, over and over again, to be a healthy beverage,” said William (“Bill”) Murray, president and CEO of the National Coffee Association, in a statement. “This lawsuit has made a mockery of Prop 65, has confused consumers, and does nothing to improve public health.”
The lawsuit isn’t over, AP reported, because a third phase of the trial will determine civil penalties over a period of eight years.