EUROPE – Two prominent activist groups, the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and the Clean Label Project (CLP), have set their sights on banning methylene chloride and other solvents from European Method decaf coffee.

Their efforts have sparked a heated debate within the coffee industry and among health experts regarding the safety and necessity of these chemicals in decaffeinated coffee production.

The EDF’s petition to the U.S. FDA targets not only methylene chloride but also calls for the ban of three additional solvents: benzene, ethylene dichloride, and trichloroethylene. Meanwhile, the CLP is focusing on lobbying the California State Assembly with a specific aim to ban methylene chloride in decaf coffee through California Assembly Bill 2066.

Maria Doa, Senior Director for Chemicals Policy at EDF, has criticized the FDA for allowing carcinogenic substances to be used in food production, emphasizing the need for stricter oversight.

Jaclyn Bowen, Executive Director of CLP, expressed concerns about the health implications of consuming trace amounts of methylene chloride, particularly for vulnerable groups such as pregnant women and individuals with health issues.

In response to the petitions, the NCA has strongly opposed the proposed bans, citing scientific evidence supporting the safety and health benefits associated with European Method decaf coffee.

NCA President and CEO Bill Murray argued that banning these methods would not only defy scientific consensus but also deprive consumers of a product linked to decreased cancer risks.

Approximately 10% of American adults regularly consume decaffeinated coffee, with the majority produced using the European Method for over five decades.

The NCA highlights that nearly all decaffeination processes occur outside the United States, with Germany, Italy, and Switzerland being major sources of decaffeinated coffee imports.

European Method decaf coffee has received authorization as safe from various global food safety authorities, including the FDA and the European Food Safety Authority.

Under U.S. regulations, minute traces of methylene chloride in decaf coffee are deemed safe up to 10 parts per million.

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