Acrylamide ?

Alert on cancer chemical found in thousands of processed foods

Last updated at 2:19 AM on 22nd April 2011

A chemical which causes cancer has been found in a huge range of foods including bread, crisps and baby food.
Scientists have identified high levels in thousands of cooked and processed products.

The substance, acrylamide, has been linked to several types of cancer including bowel, bladder and kidney, and is known to cause infertility and loss of muscle control.

Scientists have known since 2002 that the chemical exists in certain products and have urged the food industry to reduce levels.
But a major study by the European Union has confirmed that there are still large amounts in a range of items including chips, instant coffee, bread, biscuits, crisps, breakfast cereals and baby food.

Experts are now urging food producers to take stronger action, and are advising the public to cut down on processed food and eat as much fresh produce as possible.

Scientists do not know exactly what causes acrylamide to form but they believe it occurs as a result of a chemical process during baking, frying, grilling or toasting.

It appears to form when food is heated to above 120c. It is not found in uncooked or boiled food.

It is also manufactured for industry and used to make asphalt, glue, dye, paper, fabric and cosmetics as well as to remove impurities in drinking water.

Hidden dangers: Experts are urging food producers to take stronger action after the chemical was found in products including bread and crisps

The EU’s European Food Safety Authority examined 22 different food groups known to contain high levels of acrylamide in 23 countries, including Britain, and compared levels recorded in 2007 and 2009.

It found despite the warnings, levels had increased in instant coffee and crispbread and remained the same in almost all the other products.

Levels had gone down only in crackers, baby biscuits and gingerbread. The report warns that voluntary measures by the food industry have had ‘limited success’ and concludes that further action is needed.

It concludes: ‘It would be desirable to reduce acrylamide levels further in food groups contributing the most to exposure, such as fried potatoes including French fries, soft bread, roasted coffee and biscuits.’

Experts from the World Health Organisation (WHO) are also urging the public to minimise their risk by cutting down on processed foods, but they say that at the moment there is not enough evidence to justify advising the public to avoid certain foods.

Dr Angelika Tritscher of the WHO said: ‘Acrylamide is clearly carcinogenic. It has been shown to cause cancer in animal studies and we have no reason to think that the same is not true for humans.

‘We don’t know what the risk is and if we tried to quantify it, it would just be a guess which would lead to scaremongering.

‘But it’s very important for us to reduce our exposure. It reinforces the importance of a healthy diet.’

In 2008 the UK Food Standards Agency found high levels of acrylamide in a range of processed foods including Hula Hoops, Ryvita and Pringles.

The FSA does not currently advise that people should specifically try to avoid foods high in acrylamide.

However, it says that they should seek to cut down on fatty foods such as chips and crisps as part of a balanced diet.

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4 Responses to “Acrylamide ?”

  1. Gary MotaiJohn Goff Says:

    I will certainly become a regular visitor of your weblog.

  2. What Are You Eating? Better Find Out!! « Bites of Life Says:

    […] Acrylamide ? ( […]

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