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FDA Studies Cancer Risk From Baked, Fried Foods

October 01, 2002|From Reuters

WASHINGTON — Concerned about a chemical only recently discovered in food, the Food and Drug Administration said Monday that it was starting an investigation to see whether people risk getting cancer from eating fried and baked goods.

The chemical, acrylamide, has for years been designated as a possible or probable carcinogen--a cancer-causing agent. But no one thought it was in food until last year, when Swedish scientists announced they had found it in fried foods, and some breads and other foods baked at high temperatures.

The World Health Organization confirmed the findings and urged further research.

"It is clear that acrylamide is a problem," FDA Deputy Commissioner Lester Crawford said. "It doesn't need to be in food."

But no one knows whether acrylamide causes cancer in people, and if so, what amounts are dangerous, what foods it is in or whether it can be removed.

The FDA is busy testing baby food, canned beans, cereals, chocolates, cookies, crackers, French fries, infant formulas, nuts, nut butters, potato chips, meat and other foods, Dr. Lauren Posnick of the FDA's Center for Food Safety and Nutrition told a public meeting on the issue.

She said her team had sampled 150 of 600 targeted foods.

French fries and potato chips had a varying amount of acrylamides, some with a high amount. Some crackers and nuts also contained the compounds.

Acrylamide has been found to cause cancer in laboratory animals but never has been linked to human cancer.

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