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Settlement Might Mean Healthier Potato Chips

August 4, 2008

By The Associated Press

LOS ANGELES (AP) – Snack lovers, rejoice: Munching on potato chips just got a little healthier.Four food manufacturers agreed to reduce levels of a cancer-causing chemical in their potato chips and french fries under a settlement announced Friday by the state attorney general’s office.California sued H.J. Heinz Co., Frito- Lay, Kettle Foods Inc., and Lance Inc. in 2005, alleging they violated a state requirement that companies post warning labels on products with carcinogens.The companies avoided trial by agreeing to pay a combined $3 million in fines and reduce the levels of acrylamide in their products over three years, officials said.”Other companies should follow this lead,” Attorney General Jerry Brown said, calling the settlement “a victory for public health.”Acrylamide forms naturally when starchy foods are baked or fried. Studies have shown the chemical, which also has industrial uses, causes cancer in lab animals and nerve damage to workers who are exposed to high levels. The Food and Drug Administration is researching whether acrylamide in food poses a health risk.”Everybody’s trying to figure out how to lower levels (of acrylamide) without significantly, adversely affecting taste,” said Michele Corish, an attorney for Lance, which produces Cape Cod chips.Corish said the modified snacks will be available nationwide. Messages left with the other three companies were not immediately returned Friday night.

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