A judge in Los Angeles has instructed Starbucks and other coffee sellers to put a cancer warning on coffee sold in California, Reuters reported on Thursday. Judge Elihu Berle passed the judgment on Wednesday in a case that a not-for-profit group called the Council for Education and Research on Toxics filed against 90 coffee retailers.

Brewed coffee contains a carcinogenic called acrylamide, which is a byproduct of roasting coffee beans. Berle ruled that the coffee retailers had failed to show that there was no significant risk from acrylamide. “While plaintiff offered evidence that consumption of coffee increases the risk of harm to the foetus, to infants, to children and to adults, defendants’ medical and epidemiology experts testified that they had no opinion on causation,” Berle wrote. “Defendants failed to satisfy their burden of proving that consumption of coffee confers a benefit to human health.”

A third phase of the trial – which has been going on for eight years – will determine civil penalties that the coffee companies may have to pay, AP reported. With potential penalties of up to $2,500 (Rs 1,62,778) per person exposed each day for more than eight years, the companies may have to shell out an astronomical amount of money in a state that has close to 40 million residents. The defendants have until April 10 to file their objections to the judgment.

Starbucks refused to comment on the development, Reuters reported. The National Coffee Association said the industry was considering moving a higher court against the order.