Clean Label Project announced a lawsuit against five of the most important coffee brands in the United States than use methylene chloride (the active ingredient in paint stripper) in decaffeinated coffee products.
The organization focused on transparency in labeling conducted laboratory research with 24 leading coffee brands. In five of them, the studies revealed quantifiable amounts of the toxic chemical methylene chloride.
The accused companies are AmazonFresh, LLC, JM Smuckers’ Café Bustelo, Peet’s Coffee & Tea Holdco Inc., Keurig Green Mountain, Inc., and KraftHeinz Maxwell House.
The lawsuit is not properly focused on the use of methylene chloride, accusing them of “false and / or misleading labeling, marketing and sale of decaffeinated coffee products. Some products they were labeled ‘Pure’ ”.
Clean Label Project notes that what is worrying is that many vulnerable populations, like pregnant women, the elderly, and people with heart diseases, are regular consumers of decaffeinated. The consumers deserve to know if their coffee contains chemicals.
The organization points out that in 2019, the Environmental Protection Agency banned the use of methylene chloride in consumer paint stripper products after linking the chemical to cancers, cognitive impairment, asphyxia, and liver, kidney, and reproductive toxicity.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) currently allows methylene chloride to be used in decaffeination processes, but brands are not required to disclose it on their label.
What is methylene chloride?
Methylene chloride is a solvent found in paint and varnish strippers that are used to remove paint or varnish coatings from a variety of surfaces. It is also used in the repainting of bathtubs.
At coffee and tea leaves methylene chloride is used to eliminate caffeine, explains Chemical Safety Facts.
The FDA allows methylene chloride to be used as a solvent in the extraction of caffeine from coffee beans, at a level not to exceed 10 parts per million (0.001 percent).
Methyl chloride is not the only option to withdraw caffeine. There is an alternative water-based process that does not require chemicals.
“These companies could opt for 100% chemical-free decaffeination processes such as approved certified organic processes, carbon dioxide or the Swiss water method, ”said Jaclyn Bowen, executive director of the Clean Label Project.
The claims are because “consumers have the right to know what they are buying and ingesting and to be able to trust the claims made on the product’s packaging,” Bowen said.
Clean Label Project is an organization recognized for its findings of toxins in protein powders, including heavy metals (lead, arsenic, cadmium, and mercury), bisphenol-A (BPA), pesticides, or other contaminants associated with damage to health.