August 3, 2008
Agreement Aims to Reduce Cancer-Causing Chemical in Fried Potato Products
By RAQUEL MARIA DILLON
By Raquel Maria Dillon
The Associated Press
Four food manufacturers have 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. He called the settlement "a victory for public health."
Acrylamide forms naturally when starchy foods are baked or fried. Studies have shown that 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 .
According to the terms of the settlement, Frito-Lay will pay $1.5 million and Kettle Foods will pay $350,000 in penalties. Heinz agreed to pay $600,000. Lance will pay $95,000.
The state also sued McDonald's Corp.; Wendy's International Inc.; Burger King Corp.; KFC ; and Procter & Gamble Co. over acrylamide levels in 2005. Those lawsuits were settled after the companies agreed to either properly label their products or reduce levels of the chemical.
The state also sued McDonald's Corp.; Wendy's International Inc.; Burger King Corp.; KFC, a subsidiary of Yum Brands Inc.; and Procter & Gamble Co. over acrylamide levels in 2005. Those lawsuits were settled after the companies agreed to either properly label their products or lower levels of the chemical.
Originally published by BY RAQUEL MARIA DILLON.
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