Acrylamide – cancer-causing chemical found in

Thought some of you might be interested in the following news story
about the state of California suing potato product mfrs to bring

Also, if you want further information about the toxin, acrylamide,
follow this link:

SAN FRANCISCO — California Attorney General Bill Lockyer has filed
a lawsuit to force top makers of potato chips and french fries to
warn consumers about a potential cancer-causing chemical found in
the popular snacks.

In a complaint filed on Friday in Los Angeles Superior Court,
Lockyer sought an injunction to stop restaurant chains such as
McDonald’s Corp. and Wendy’s International Inc. from selling french
fries without some form of warning.

Also named were producers of potato chips and other packaged potato
products like PepsiCo’s Frito-Lay Inc. and Procter & Gamble Co.,
makers of Pringles chips.

The suit asks manufacturers of these products to identify the
dangers of high levels of acrylamide, a chemical that studies have
found is created when starchy foods are cooked at high heat.

“I know from personal experience that, while these snacks may not be
a necessary part of a healthy diet, they sure taste good,” Lockyer
said in a statement. “But I, and all consumers, should have the
information we need to make informed decisions about the food we

The lawsuit alleges that companies have violated a state law passed
in 1986 requiring companies to provide warnings before exposing
people to known carcinogens or reproductive toxins.

In 2002, scientists found potatoes and other starchy foods cooked at
high temperatures contained low levels of acrylamide. Other studies
have discounted the potential toxicity of acrylamide to humans.


The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is studying the impact of
acrylamide levels in food. In a March press release, the FDA
said “acrylamide can cause cancer in laboratory animals at high
doses, although it is not clear whether it causes cancer in humans
at the much lower levels found in food.”

Acrylamide is also widely used for industrial purposes, including
sewage treatment.

Other defendants named in the suit include Burger King Corp., KFC
Corp., a unit of Yum Brands Inc., for its KFC Potato Wedges, Kettle
Foods Inc., makers of Kettle chips, which bills itself as a natural
health food brand, and Cape Cod Potato Chips Co. of Hyannis,
Massachusetts, a unit of Lance Inc..

In June, a California consumer group pressed the attorney general’s
office to take this action. At that time, Frito-Lay issued a
statement saying its “food safety standards are very stringent and
meet all federal and state regulations.”

Procter & Gamble spokeswoman Kay Puryear said company researchers
have been investigating issues raised by the 2002 acrylamide study,
she said.

“Acrylamide is available whether those foods are prepared in a
restaurant, at home or by the packaged goods industry,” she
said. “We stand behind, and absolutely think, our products are as
safe as ever.”

Burger King spokeswoman Edna Johnson said she had not seen the suit
because her company’s Miami headquarters had been closed in the wake
of Hurricane Katrina. “As a matter of company policy we don’t
comment on pending legal matters,” she said.

Spokesmen for McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Cape Cod
Potato Chips, Yum Brands and Kettle Foods were not immediately
available to comment on Saturday.

Under state law, the attorney general’s suit supersedes private
claims filed by environmental groups in recent years against some of
the same defendants.

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