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Chemical Found in French Fries, Acrylamide Linked to Cancer: FDA Warns

By Staff Reporter / Nov 15, 2013 01:00 PM EST

Tags : french fries, cancer, FDA, health, warning

  • Crispy fries
  • (Photo : Pixabay) Crispy fries may be linked to cancer

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued yet another popular food ingredient to its list of foods to be wary of and this time, it's a chemical called acrylamide which is found in crispy French fries.

In a consumer update posted to its website, the FDA gives a detailed report, urging consumers to cut back on acrylamide, a chemical that forms naturally in plant-based foods when they are cooked at high temperatures for a long time. The most popular food item this ingredient is found in is French fries, especially crispy ones.

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Besides crispy fries, the chemical acrylamide is commonly found in cereals, coffee, crackers, breads and dried fruits. Acrylamide is not only limited to food items, the chemical has also found its way into the industrial chain in products including paper, dyes and plastics and treating drinking water, wastewater and sewage. 

Several studies on animals have found that when high levels of arylamide are induced, there is a higher risk of cancer. However, more research is needed, particularly long-term studies on humans, in order to determine the link between arylamide and cancer development.

Since up to 40 percent of the calories we consume contain acrylamide, according to the Grocery Manufacturers Association, it's worth exploring some of the other ways to reduce it where we can.

The cancer concern arylamide poses is not one that only the FDA has. Both the World Health Organization and the Food and Agriculture Organization call the levels of acrylamide in foods a "major concern," and call for more research.

Below are some tips on how to reduce acrylamide consumption from the FDA and Cancer.gov:

  • Avoid frying foods. "If frying frozen fries, follow manufacturers' recommendations on time and temperature and avoid overcooking, heavy crisping or burning," the FDA says.
  • Frying, baking, roasting and broiling are the methods that create the most acrylamide, while boiling, steaming, and microwaving appear to generate less.
  • According to Cancer.gov, 248°F (120°C) seems to be the magic temperature, above which more acrylamide forms. On the contrary, foods heated to below 248°F or less do not seem to contain the chemical.
  • Avoid eating burnt toast. "Toast bread to a light brown color rather than a dark brown color. Avoid very brown areas," advises the FDA.

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