September 18, 2009

Fried-food chemical concerns scientists

A naturally occurring chemical in french fries is raising concern as a potential human carcinogen, U.S. scientists said.

Acrylamide, a byproduct of cooking high-carbohydrate foods at high temperatures, is present in a wide variety of roasted and baked foods, including cereals, bread and crackers, the Chicago Tribune reported Friday.

Acrylamide has been linked to cancer in rats and is present in about 40 percent of processed food, said food safety consultant James Coughlin, a spokesman for the Institute of Food Technologists.

Governments in the United States, Canada and Europe are pushing food-industry chemists to reduce acrylamide in their products, Coughlin said.

I've never seen such cooperation between countries, industries and government, Coughlin said. Acrylamide "is the biggest thing going on for food toxicologists.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said consumers shouldn't be overly concerned about acrylamide, but should eat a healthy diet by reducing their consumption of fats and processed food.