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Minimal exposure to methylene chloride in coffee seen by FDA.

Minimal exposure to methylene chloride in coffee seen by FDA

Food and Drugs Commissioner Dr. Frank Young wrote to the Public Citizen Litigation Group, on June 8, that "decaffeination use of methylene chloride...poses minimal exposure, especially because of the apparent trend of declining use of this substance."

Public citizens Katherine Meyer and William Schultz asked about the status of methylene chloride in coffee and the current level of use in this country.

Regarding the status of methylene chloride in coffee, Young said FDA "has given higher priority to a decision on cosmetic use than on coffee use..." The ban on use of methylene chloride in cosmetics is believed to be imminent, but the document is not expected to discuss use in coffee.

Stating that "the amount of methylene chloride consumed from coffee that has been decaffeinated with this solvent will be far less than we estimated in 1985," Young said that, "when FDA tentatively determined that the lifetime carcinogenic risk from methylene chloride was less than one in a million for those consumers preferentially consuming large amounts of decaffeinated coffee the agency used the conservative assumptions that ground coffee would contain methylene chloride at the maximum limit allows, and that all methylene chloride would be extracted in the brewed coffee."

The Commissioner said that laboratory analyses conducted by the agency since 1985 show that "the largest amount of methylene chloride found in brewed decaffeinated coffee is approximately one hundreth of that estimated in 1985.

The Commissioner said FDA does "not have comprehensive information on the prevalence of methylene chloride processing for coffee that is imported into the U.S. from other countries." However, he said it is "clear ... that less than 10 percent of the decaffeinated coffee sold in the U.S. is made using methylene chloride."
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Title Annotation:Trade News; use in decaffeination is reduced
Publication:Tea & Coffee Trade Journal
Date:Jul 1, 1989
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