A federal appeals court has upheld an injunction against lawsuits in California over acrylamide, a substance that forms when some foods are cooked.
The Ninth Circuit affirmed a lower court’s temporary injunction in a case brought by the California Chamber of Commerce. The ruling bars any lawsuits over acrylamide until the case is adjudicated and a decision made on a permanent injunction.
Acrylamide has been a subject of litigation in California for decades. It is a chemical that occurs when certain foods, especially starchy ones, are exposed to heat. Lawsuits around acrylamide center on Proposition 65, a law passed by voters in 1986, which mandates that any food or beverage product that contains known carcinogens must disclose that fact on its packaging.
Acrylamide is among 900 substances listed as carcinogens by California regulators, based on studies with laboratory mice. A Swedish study in 2002 found that acrylamide can occur during cooking. That year, lawsuits started coming, and they haven’t stopped. According to an amicus brief filed by the Consumer Brands Association, settlements of Proposition 65 lawsuits cost businesses $42.5 million.
The Ninth Circuit decision, written by Judge Mark Bennett, says the lower court was correct because there is no broad consensus among scientists that acrylamide consumption in fact causes cancer. The case will now continue at the lower court level.