Acrylamide in Potato Chips and other popular foods!?
Who knew that potato chips and other starchy foods contained a chemical listed on California’s Proposition 65 list of chemicals known to cause cancer or “reproductive toxicity,” which is defined as birth defects and other reproductive harm. Certain doses of acrylamide are also toxic to the nervous system of both animals and humans. Several potato chip companies recently settled with the State of California to reduce the levels of acrylamide in their products.
What exactly is acrylamide?
The FDA defines acrylamide as: Acrylamide is a chemical that can form in some foods during high-temperature cooking processes, such as frying, roasting, and baking. Acrylamide in food forms from sugars and the amino acid asparagine that are naturally present in food; it does not come from food packaging or the environment.
Acrylamide has been used in grouts and cements, pulp and paper production, water and wastewater treatment, soil conditioning and oil drilling. Acrylamide also is present in tobacco smoke.
What foods are likely to have this chemical? Why?
Potato products (such as chips and french fries), grain products (such as breakfast cereals, taco shells, toast) and coffee. These items all have larger amounts of the amino acid, asparagine, which causes the formation when combined with sugars. Acrylamide is less likely to form in dairy, meat, and fish products.
The U.S. National Toxicology Program offers the following tips for reducing acrylamide exposure:
- Fry foods at 338 degrees Fahrenheit or lower.
- Cook potato strips, such as French fries, to a golden-yellow rather than a golden-brown color.
- Toast bread to the lightest color acceptable.
- Soak raw potato slices in water for 15 to 30 minutes before frying or roasting. Drain and blot dry before cooking.
- Do not store raw potatoes in the refrigerator.
“This shocked me quite a bit,” admits Dr. Travis Stork, an emergency room physician and one of the co-hosts of “The Doctors.” “I was unaware that there was acrylamide in chips.”
This information on acrylamide only reinforces our general advice on eating healthy and moderating or eliminating the consumption of fried, fatty and starchy foods.
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