Acrylamide has been shown to cause cancer in lab rats, and researchers from the Swedish Food Administration found in 2002 that unexpectedly high levels of the carcinogen are present in high-carbohydrate foods. Acrylamides form when high-starch foods are cooked at high temperatures -- fried, roasted, baked or toasted -- with the highest levels found in french fries, oven-baked fries and potato chips. Certain foods' acrylamide content jumps sharply after cooking; for example, Lamb Weston Inland Valley's unbaked fries product showed 220 ppb of acrylamides prior to cooking, and 1,325 ppb after cooking.
Food manufacturers have paid close attention to the FDA's list, which identifies acrylamide content by name brand. For example, Postum caffeine-free hot beverage occupies the top spot on the FDA's list with 5,399 ppb of acrylamides.
As more and more consumers become aware of possible disease-causing ingredients in their foods, food manufacturers are resisting stricter labeling laws that require foods containing harmful ingredients to be labeled as such. Currently manufacturers are fighting to exempt acrylamide from Proposition 65 in California, which would require food makers to list cancer-causing compounds in their foods.
"Food and beverage giants have, for decades, attempted to hide the truth about the toxic chemicals in their products," explained Mike Adams, an outspoken critic of the processed food industry. "Now, they want to keep consumers in the dark about acrylamides, too, just as they've been spreading disinformation about aspartame, monosodium glutamate, artificial colors and other chemical additives."
The FDA's full list of 2,500 foods containing acrylamide can be found at http://www.cfsan.fda.gov/~dms/acrydata.html.