The FDA has released a detailed question and answer page on acrylamide. With so much information on this topic in the news lately, this would be a good time to review what acrylamide is and how it affects you.
- What is acrylamide?Acrylamide is a chemical that can form in some foods during high-temperature cooking processes, such as frying, roasting, and baking. Acrylamide in food forms from sugars and an amino acid that are naturally present in food; it does not come from food packaging or the environment.
- Is there a risk from eating foods that contain acrylamide?Acrylamide caused cancer in animals in studies where animals were exposed to acrylamide at very high doses. Acrylamide causes nerve damage in people exposed to very high levels at work. FDA has not yet determined the exact public health impact, if any, of acrylamide from the much lower levels found in foods. FDA is conducting research studies to determine whether acrylamide in food is a potential risk to human health.
From the World Health Organization FAQ page:
What can be done to avoid acrylamide in food? Should I stop eating starchy foods including potato chips?
We don’t know exactly at what temperature acrylamide is formed in food. However acrylamide has so far not been found in food prepared at temperatures below 120 degrees Celsius, including boiled foods.
Food should not be cooked excessively, i.e. for too long or at too high a temperature. However, all food, especially meat and meat products, should be cooked sufficiently to destroy food poisoning bacteria.
The information available on acrylamide so far reinforces general advice on healthy eating, including moderating consumption of fried and fatty foods. There is not enough evidence about the amounts of acrylamide in different types of food to recommend avoiding any particular food product.
Acrylamide in the News:
In 2005, in an effort to force major companies to cut down acrylamides in their foods, Attorney General Jerry Brown filed lawsuits against Frito-Lay, Lance Inc., Kettle Foods, H.J. Heinz, Procter & Gamble, KFC, Burger King, Wendy’s, and McDondald’s.
Last week a settlement was reached in those lawsuits which is not only a financial settlement but a reduction in levels of acrylamide.
Read the full story here in the San Francisco Chronicle.