As a result of Clean Label Project‘s (CLP) October 2019 investigation of 24 leading coffee brands, the national nonprofit focused on truth and transparency in labeling announced today that it recently filed lawsuits against five of the largest coffee brands for including the active ingredient in paint stripper, methylene chloride, in decaffeinated coffee products.
The lawsuits were filed by Davitt, Lalley, Dey, & McHale on behalf of CLP in D.C. Superior Court against AmazonFresh, LLC, J.M. Smuckers’ Café Bustelo, Peet’s Coffee & Tea Holdco Inc., Keurig Green Mountain, Inc. and KraftHeinz Maxwell House.
Clean Label Project (CLP) is a national nonprofit organisation with a mission to bring truth and transparency to food and consumer product labeling. CLP is committed to changing the definition of food and consumer safety through the use of data, science, and transparency. By sharing the results of scientific data directly with consumers, it seeks to assist the public in making the most informed choice possible each time they shop.
Methylene Chloride is an active ingredient in paint stripper that was recently banned by the EPA. The FDA currently allows methylene chloride to be used in some coffee decaffeination processes and brands are not required to disclose the decaffeination process on their label.
There is an alternative water-based process that doesn’t require chemicals, but many major brands continue to use the chemical process anyway.
Clean Label Project investigated to see if methylene chloride was showing up in the decaf coffee products that people purchase.
According to the lawsuits, defendants engaged in false and/or deceptive labeling, marketing and sale of decaffeinated coffee products. Some products were labeled as “Pure” but testing by an independent lab revealed quantifiable amounts of the toxic chemical methylene chloride.
In 2019, the Environmental Protection Agency banned methylene chloride’s use in consumer paint stripping products after linking the chemical to cancers, cognitive impairment, asphyxiation and liver, kidney and reproductive toxicity. CLP’s findings are disturbing because decaffeinated coffee drinkers are typically vulnerable populations, including pregnant women, seniors or people with cardiovascular, gastrointestinal or other health issues.
Consumers deserve to know how their decaf is made and if they are getting chemicals in their coffee.