CDC Finds Coffee Roasting Workers Face Respiratory Health Risk

Posted On: 10/5/2017

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WASHINGTON -- In a new report, researchers at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are saying that people who spend their days roasting, grinding and packaging coffee at roasting plants and coffee shops should pay close attention to their respiratory health. The agency's researchers found workers at a roasting plant in Wisconsin had wheezing in their chests at four times the rate expected when compared to a similar U.S. demographic population.

Workers told CDC investigators they also experienced sinus and other mucous membrane symptoms that they suspected were caused or aggravated by green and ground coffee dust, roasted coffee and chaff. A third of the 16 workers screened had abnormal breathing tests, according to the study.

CDC's study followed concerns over several compounds, including diacetyl, associated with respiratory illness and disease. Diacetyl can be found in flavors, but also occurs naturally in coffee making.

Previous studies have linked added flavorings to serious lung disease, but this latest research followed employees in a coffee production facility that does not add flavors to its coffees.

Calling the findings statistically significant, the authors wrote, "We recommend a medical monitoring program to identify any employees who may be developing lung disease."

Coffee's health risk made headlines last week in the return of a lawsuit that seeks to put cancer-warning labels on coffee drinks sold in California. At the center of the dispute is acrylamide, a carcinogen that's a natural byproduct of the coffee roasting process. | READ MORE