Acrylamide continues to be a trending topic in many news outlets. And though you may have read an article or two on the topic, you might still find yourself wondering what acrylamide is and whether you should be concerned. We had similar questions, so we did some research. You may be surprised what we discovered about this seemingly frightening word. Here’s what we found out about acrylamide from food toxicologist, Dr. Carl Winter, PhD, Director, FoodSafe Program, Extension Food Toxicologist at the University of California-Davis
What is Acrylamide?
Acrylamide is a substance formed naturally in food. It is created when foods naturally containing specific sugars and the amino acid asparagine are heated.
Why is acrylamide bad for people? What are its effects?
Laboratory studies indicate that rats receiving large daily doses of acrylamide have an increased incidence of cancer.
Lately, there have been lots of articles about acrylamide. Should consumers be concerned about acrylamide?
In contrast with the high levels of acrylamide that have been required to demonstrate cancer in laboratory animals, human exposures to acrylamide from the diet are much lower. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not developed regulatory limits for acrylamide in food but does suggest that consumers can combat exposure to acrylamide by eating a varied diet.
How can consumers avoid acrylamide?
While acrylamide is present in many different foods, the major source of human dietary exposure to acrylamide is potato products (French fries and potato chips) but breads, bagels, cereals, and coffee also contribute to acrylamide exposure. It has been recommended that consumers follow the U.S. dietary guidelines and restrict their consumption of French fries and potato chips to moderate levels. The food industry has responded to acrylamide concerns by changing food production and processing practices to further reduce acrylamide levels in potato products.