Why Coffee Sold in California Could Soon Come With a Toxic Warning Label

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iStock

If you live in California, you may be accustomed to seeing signs warning of cancer-causing chemicals everywhere from cleaning supplies to Disneyland. These labels have been enforced by Proposition 65 since 1986, but until now coffee products have largely been successful in avoiding them. As Bloomberg reports, an ongoing lawsuit could soon make it so that the disclaimers appear on every cup of coffee people in California purchase. Some stores are already rolling out the warnings for coffee in anticipation of the legal crackdown.

Proposition 65 states that all products sold in California containing one or more of the substances from a list of 1000 harmful chemicals must bear a label warning it may "cause cancer, or birth defects, or other reproductive harm." Businesses that ignore this law face fines reaching up to thousands of dollars for each item sold without the proper labeling.

For years, major coffee distributors like Starbucks have skirted the toxic designation even though some lawyers say they're breaking the law by doing so. Because coffee has acrylamide, the chemical that's made when plant-based foods are cooked at high temperatures, the drink technically falls within the group of products that should carry the warning. Studies have shown that the compound is a carcinogen in rodents, and McDonald's and Frito Lay are already required to alert customers in the state to the acrylamide content in their fries and potato chips.

But while acrylamide is present in coffee, companies have argued for years that the actual beverage doesn't qualify for the label because many studies have dispelled the link between coffee drinking and cancer.

"We don't want to have to put a label that would be false speech and that isn't scientifically accurate," Joe DeRupo, a spokesman for the National Coffee Association, told Bloomberg.

But coffee's exemption from the rule could soon change. Since 2010, the Council for Education and Research on Toxics has been suing Starbucks and dozens of other companies for leaving the label off their coffee. The second phase of the trial is currently in progress and the judge is expected to make a decision by the end of 2017. Starbucks and a handful of other stores have already begun posting the warning as signs in their stores, perhaps as a way to protect themselves from the potential legal consequences.

If you're a California resident who sees those signs at your local coffee shop, or on your actual coffee in the near future, there's no need to panic. Despite naturally occurring traces of acrylamide, many studies suggest that the heart-healthy benefits of coffee could outweigh any negative effects. And while experts agree that drinking coffee with acrylamide doesn't cause cancer in humans, one study found a link between drinking very hot beverages and cancer of the esophagus. So if you want to make your morning routine a little healthier, wait for your java to cool down below 149°F before taking a sip. 

[h/t Bloomberg]

9 Amazon Prime Perks You Might Be Missing Out On

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iStock.com/jahcottontail143

From diapers to camera equipment to jewelry, you can buy just about anything on Amazon and have it delivered to your doorstep in a matter of days—or in some cases, even hours. If you buy from the retailer often enough, its Prime service, which offers free two-day shipping, will save you far more than the $119 it costs to subscribe.

Your Prime membership offers a lot more than free shipping, though. To get even more out of Prime, don't forget to take full advantage of all its extra perks.

1. Photo Storage

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One of the most convenient perks of your Prime membership is unlimited photo storage on Amazon Drive. You can add photos from your phone or computer and access them from your devices. You also have the option to back up those photos automatically with the Amazon Photos app. This way, you can free up precious storage space on your phone. Amazon says it doesn't adjust or reduce the quality of your images, either.

In addition to unlimited photo storage, Prime members also get 5 GB of data storage for free, which is useful for saving videos and other files.

2. Grocery Delivery

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With Prime Pantry, you can skip the supermarket and have grocery staples delivered to your door. For a flat fee of $5.99, you can order all the kitchen, household, and pet care items you can fit in a box. Each time you add an order to your virtual Pantry box, Amazon will tell you how much room you have left. And if the order is over $35, Prime members get free delivery.

3. Music, Movies, and TV Shows

Amazon Prime Video app on Apple TV
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Prime members also get access to Prime Video, where they can find a huge selection of free movies and TV shows, including its original programming. Similarly, Prime Music includes a massive collection of streaming music from top artists. The songs are ad-free and you can download them to your device in order to listen to them even when you’re not connected to data.

Prime also gives away free entertainment credits via its “no-rush shipping” option. Your Prime membership comes with free two-day shipping, but if you choose a later delivery date, you can score digital credits toward eBooks, music, videos, and apps.

4. Free Kindle eBooks

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If you're a Prime member with a Kindle e-reader or Fire tablet, you also have access to the Kindle Owners' Lending Library. It's like a digital public library that offers access to hundreds of thousands of books.

The catch is that you can only borrow one title a month, and the available titles change every month. However, there are no due dates, so if it takes you a few months to finish a book, you don't have to worry about late fees.

5. Steeper Discounts on Some Products

baby products
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If you have a young child or infant, you can score discounts on supplies with Amazon Family, which offers 20 percent off certain product subscriptions (like diapers and baby food) through Amazon Subscribe & Save. If you use Amazon Family to register for gifts, you also get a 15 percent completion discount on some items, which basically means you'll get a price cut on any items left on your registry.

Even if you’re not a parent, Amazon's Subscribe & Save option can help cut the cost of certain products. You get up to 15 percent off household items when you opt to receive at least five of those products periodically—you set the schedule, so you decide whether that new bag of dog food is delivered every week or month.

6. Early Access to Deals

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Amazon's Lightning Deals can be hit or miss, but if you have Prime, you can scope them out early. Amazon allows Prime members to check out what's on sale 30 minutes before anyone else, which can help you snag popular items that will sell out fast.

And on Amazon Prime Day, Prime members are privy to even more deals.

7. Two-Hour Delivery

Scarlett Moffatt of Gogglebox with Prime Now package
Andrew Benge, Getty Images for Amazon

If you need something in a rush, Amazon will ship items from local stores, depending on your Zip code, with free two-hour delivery. This service is called Prime Now, and it is, of course, only available to Prime customers. It includes over 10,000 items, many of which are household staples like cleaning products, toiletries, and food. However, it also includes some electronics like video games, chargers, and computer accessories.

After acquiring Whole Foods in 2017, Amazon has added the grocery chain to its Prime Now service in select cities, too. They're testing Whole Foods delivery in a number of major metro areas before rolling it out nationwide.

8. Twitch Prime

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Twitch is a live video streaming service for gamers. And since Amazon purchased the company in 2014, you can now get Twitch Prime membership for free with Amazon Prime.

Each month, Twitch members get "free game loot," which includes access to a new game. You can also watch other gamers stream their videos ad-free, and you get one free channel subscription every 30 days. If you already have Amazon Prime, you simply need to link your account to Twitch Prime.

9. Amazon Elements

Amazon Elements Baby Wipes
Amazon

For the socially conscious shopper, Amazon launched Amazon Elements, a shopping portal that includes a line of "premium products."

With Amazon Elements, Amazon only partners with suppliers that meet its "high-quality and safety standards." For now, the selection of products on Elements is scarce. Categories are limited to vitamins and baby wipes. You can dig deeper into the sourcing of these products, though, and review the item's quality report as well as ingredient and product origins via the Amazon app.

At Mental Floss, we only write about the products we love and want to share with our readers, so all products are chosen independently by our editors. Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a percentage of any sale made from the links on this page. Prices and availability are accurate as of the time of publication.

University of California and McMaster University Are Offering Their Learning How to Learn Course Online for Free

Deagreez/iStock via Getty Images Plus
Deagreez/iStock via Getty Images Plus

If you've ever stayed up late cramming information the night before an exam, it probably didn't go well. Or maybe you tried doing the right thing by spending days or even months studying a subject, only to realize you weren't retaining the information. These failed attempts may have you believe you're just not cut out for the subject matter, but that's not always true. In the course Learning How to Learn from Coursera, you can understand what it takes to truly understand new information, as well as the key strategies and habits you can employ to make it all stick.

Learning How to Learn is taught by Dr. Barbara Oakley, a Ramón y Cajal Distinguished Scholar of Global Digital Learning at McMaster University, along with Dr. Terrence Sejnowski, who holds the Francis Crick Chair at the Salk Institute and is a professor at the University of California, San Diego. Throughout the weeks, they’ll teach you how to combat procrastination, how our brains process information, and the importance of breaking up new material into bite-sized chunks. You’ll also cover how taking breaks, getting sleep, and exercising are just as important as studying when it comes to learning something new.

According to Coursera, to finish the class in the typical four-week time, most students devote about three hours a week to the online videos, readings, quizzes, and coursework. There’s also no need to cram—which you’ll learn is not an effective learning tool—as this course is self-paced.

The course itself is free, but if you want a certificate of completion to share on your LinkedIn and resume, it will cost $49. Signing up for the certificate also gives you access to graded assignments, whereas the free version only allows you to read the course material.

You can also check out more free classes offered by Ivy League colleges by heading here.

At Mental Floss, we only write about the products we love and want to share with our readers, so all products are chosen independently by our editors. Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a percentage of any sale made from the links on this page. Prices and availability are accurate as of the time of publication.

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