Asparagine, a naturally occurring amino acid when heated with certain sugars such as glucose, leads to the formation of the substance acrylamide. Canada’s government made the discovery about he suspect chemical reaction and has ordered food manufacturers to look for ways to alter it and thus lower levels of acrylamide in food. Cincinnati-based manufacturer Procter & Gamble Co. says its scientists too have found the asparagines connection.
Sweden’s findings were confirmed in June by governments in Norway, Britain and Switzerland and preliminary testing of several hundred foods by the FDA suggests U.S. foods contain similar acrylamide levels said Richard Canady, who is directing the agency’s assessment of acrylamide’s risk.
Acrylamide is used to produce plastics and dyes to purify drinking water. Although traces have been found in water, no one expected high levels to be in basic foods. It causes cancer in test animals but it has not been proved to do so in people. Still, Swedish scientists have said the levels are high enough that food borne acrylamide might be responsible for several hundred cases of cancer in that country each year.
In the United States, the FDA has been careful to caution that acrylamide so far is only a suspected carcinogen. The FDA has not yet advised consumers to alter their diets to avoid it.
Vol 22 Issue 1 Page 4