New studies have found that cooking starchy carbohydrate foods at higher temperatures and/or longer cooking time increases the amount of acrylamide produced. Acrylamide is a proven carcinogen in animal studies. Levels produced in cooked carbohydrates exceed the US government limit given for drinking water by hundreds of times.
Notice how Reuters distorts the report. Reuters does NOT mention the words starch, starchy or carbohydrates. They say fish and chicken have little acrylamide but simply omit the fact that ALL meats including beef, lamb, pork, etc. have very little acrylamide.
The US-FDA suggest eating a low-fat diet rich in high-fiber grains which is naturally a high-carbohydrate diet that would contain the questionable acrylamide cancer causing chemical.
Reuters finishes the story with a sneaky switch in topic from acrylamide to PAH's formed when food is burned on the barbeque grill. Grilled foods are generally meats.
Following the Reuters story below is one from BBC.com warning that microwaved starchy carbohydrates also form high levels of acrylamide. The BBC report is more honest and balanced.
Reuters News | Top News
Acrylamide Levels Said to Vary Greatly in Foods
Thu December 5, 2002 11:59 AM ET
By Lisa Richwine
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Levels of a possible cancer-causing chemical vary widely among foods, and even from one bag of potato chips to another of the same brand, according to preliminary findings US officials released on Wednesday.
Scientists around the world are working to determine how much of the chemical, called acrylamide, is in certain foods, in response to Swedish research that found it in fried foods and some foods baked at high temperatures.
High levels of acrylamide cause cancer in rodents, but scientists do not know whether it can cause cancer in people. Researchers want to answer that question, as well as determine whether food acrylamide levels can be reduced by changes to cooking or manufacturing.
Food and Drug Administration researchers tested dozens of foods, including French fries, potato chips, breads, cookies, crackers, cereals and canned and frozen fruits and vegetables.
"There is a lot of variation," FDA scientist Steven Musser told a meeting of food experts.
Not only did acrylamide levels vary between different brands of the same food, they also differed among the same products of the same brands. For instance, batches of French fries from six McDonald's restaurants yielded significantly different results, as did more than a dozen bags of Lay's potato chips.
The variability suggests it may be possible to reduce the amount of acrylamide in foods, Musser said. Researchers need to figure out, however, exactly what causes the differences.
Cooking time appears to be a factor, Musser said. He found that frozen French fries contained little acrylamide before baking. Acrylamide levels rose substantially depending on whether the fries were baked for 15 minutes, 30 minutes or 45 minutes, Musser said.
Scientists also believe a common amino acid called asparagine is involved in acrylamide formation.
Some foods had little or no acrylamide. They include baby food, infant formula, raw or cooked fish and chicken and frozen vegetables.
FDA officials said the agency's tests were conducted on a small number of samples, and they do not provide enough information to suggest changes to consumer eating habits. The agency is sticking with advice for people to eat a balanced, low-fat diet rich in high-fiber grains, fruits and vegetables.
Industry groups said they supported the FDA's efforts to assess acrylamide risk.
"FDA's research on acrylamide levels in various foods is neither a warning to consumers nor a finding of risk associated with any particular foods or individual brands," said Rhona Applebaum, executive vice president and chief scientist for the National Food Processors Association.
Some foods are known to carry cancer-causing agents. For example, barbecuing or grilling foods can form compounds called PAHs, which can cause cancer, and the federal government advises Americans to grill foods carefully to avoid burning them.
BBC NEWS | Programmes | 4x4 Reports
Monday, 12 August, 2002, 17:07 GMT 18:07 UK
Cancer risk in microwaved food
Microwaving food generates the cancer-causing chemical acrylamide, scientists have discovered.
Swedish research published in April revealed the food contaminant was formed by frying and baking starch-based foods.
But now chemists at Stockholm University have found heating any food containing potato in a microwave produces significant levels of acrylamide.
Acrylamide, a chemical used in industry to make a plastic component, is known to have caused nerve damage in people who have been exposed to it.
It appears to form when food reaches temperatures much higher than 100C during cooking.
The latest research, to be published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, is the work of a team led by Dr Margareta Törnqvist who first discovered acrylamide in food.
She believes health is threatened by acrylamide in concentrations greater than 100 parts per billion. Her recent experiments showed the following amounts of acrylamide in foods:
Potato crisps - nearly 4,000 parts per billion
Chips - 736 parts per billion
Microwaved grated potato - 650 parts per billion
Fried spinach - 112 parts per billion
"I would say that boiling at 100 C is the only safe cooking method," Dr Törnqvist told 4x4 Reports. "We found that when we heated protein-rich foods, such as beef and chicken, only moderate levels of acrylamide were produced. But carbohydrate-rich foods had high levels, with crisps and chips producing the most. And the higher the cooking temperature, the higher the level of acrylamide."
While Dr Törnqvist was hesitant to promote mild cooking because of the dangers of food-borne diseases like Salmonella, she said the study proved overcooking should be avoided, especially with potatoes. "We have so far only studied the carbohydrate-rich staple foods of Western society. But these form some of our most popular meals so food companies may have to make big changes in the way they produce food."
Other similar new stories are:
HealthScout-Cancer-Levels of Possible Food Carcinogen Vary Widely
Newsday.com - Tests: Cancer Substance Varies in Fries