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Court Rules Breakfast Cereals Don't Need Cancer Warning

Luckily for Californians, breakfast has been saved.

After a California judge said coffee products must include a cancer warning because of a chemical in roasted coffee beans, the legislature jumped in to save the bean. Then another judge ruled against cereal-makers because of the same carcinogen.

But a state appeals court threw out the ruling in Post v. Superior Court of Los Angeles County. And no, the carcinogen is not caffeine or sugar.

Acrylamide

Acrylamide is a chemical compound, and it has been seen as a possible cause of cancer for decades. Prop. 65, enacted as California's Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act, requires warnings on products with such carcinogens.

That's why the Los Angeles Superior Court judge ordered Starbucks to put the warning label on its coffee. Wide-eyed lawmakers moved swiftly to overrule that decision with new regulations.

Meanwhile, the judge in the Post case ruled against the cereal makers' motion for summary judgment. The Second District Court of Appeals said that was a mistake.

The appeals court was persuaded by statements from the Food and Drug Administration that no Prop. 65 warning for acrylamide should be placed on foods unless science dictates it.

Baking, Frying, and Roasting

Acrylamide is generated naturally in carbohydrate-rich goods that are baked, roasted, fried, or deep fried. That includes French fries, potato chips, crackers, brown bread -- and 59 cereals made by Post and General Mills.

The Environmental Protection Agency, the appeals court observed, said that since the chemical "appears to form from standard cooking methods like baking, frying, and roasting, it has been in the human diet for many thousands of years."

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