NEW YORK CITY -- The National Coffee Association is stepping up its effort to mitigate the legal battles coffee roasters and retailers are facing as a result of California's Proposition 65. It has engaged Political Solutions LLC, a Sacramento-based public affairs firm to lead the charge.
At issue is the compound acrylamide, which is formed during the roasting process. Proposition 65, known by its sponsors as the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act, passed as a voter referendum aimed at preventing contamination of the water supply, The statute has become the vehicle for rampant legal actions by plaintiffs' attorneys when any listed chemical is detected in foods.
Among its provisions is the requirement that "no person in the course of doing business shall knowingly and intentionally expose any individual to a chemical known to the state to cause cancer or reproductive toxicity without first giving clear and reasonable warning to such individual." Acrylamide is regarded by the state health agency as such a chemical. | READ MORE
Dozens of coffee manufacturers and retailers are embroiled in legal action in the state based on allegations of failure to warn of the presence of acrylamide.
NCA said the new lobbying firm brings the added dimension of local presence and expertise by expanding the tools available to the association as it deploys a comprehensive strategy to curtail the impact of Proposition 65.
"California's Proposition 65 has created a toxic business environment for the coffee industry and other businesses, and NCA has been leading the charge to roll back its scope and impact," said NCA president and chief executive Robert F. Nelson. "Engaging Political Solutions adds highly specialized expertise as well as eyes, ears and boots on the ground in the California state capitol to heighten the impact of NCA's comprehensive, ongoing policy initiatives to neutralize the statute."
As a public referendum, Proposition 65 can only be amended by a two-thirds vote of the California legislature or a new voter initiative. However, NCA recently jumped on a rare opening for reform when legislative proposals in the state Legislature dovetailed with a call for change by the state's governor.
NCA said it has been engaged with the governor's office, legislators, state health agencies and trade associations to try to eliminate the law's unintended burden on the coffee industry.