Is There Acrylamide in My Coffee?

*Update July 11th 2018: Coffee is no longer required by the State of California to provide a warning label for the presence of acrylamide in coffee. Produced organically during the roasting process of coffee, the level of acrylamide found was deemed not a significant threat to cancer. Learn more about the decision here and here.

If you’re not sure what all the fuss is about, acrylamide recently caused a bit of an uproar when a judge in California ruled that coffee sellers should post warnings about the potentially cancer-causing chemical found in their coffee.

No need to wonder, the short answer is yes. Acrylamide can be found in Ethical Bean Coffee and in every coffee on grocery store shelves all over the country and beyond. The process of roasting coffee produces the chemical.

The thing is, acrylamide was found to cause cancer in rats, when a huge amount of it was given to them. We’re talking about levels of acrylamide not found in the most potent acrylamide-carrying foods. And there is a long list of foods that produce acrylamide in their manufacturing process. Any food that goes through a browning process will produce acrylamide. That means potato chips, french fries (deep-fried or oven-baked), canned black olives, prune juice, breakfast cereal, coffee… it’s a long list.

So, abstinence from coffee (it’s crazy for us even to suggest such a thing) will not keep you safe from consuming acrylamide. You’d probably have to cut out a significant portion of your diet to avoid it. But if you’re still worried about it – as any potentially cancer-causing thing is bound to do – here’s some more info:

The average brewed cup of coffee contains 7.8 ppb. For perspective, 1 ppb is equivalent to about 3 ounces in 100,000 tons, or 3 seconds in a century. Other foods are much higher (*cough cough potato chips at an average 597.5 ppb) and even then, there is no evidence that the amount of acrylamide people consume contributes to any adverse health conditions.

Further information on acrylamide and coffee can be found here:

http://www.ncausa.org/Industry-Resources/Acrylamide

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