Are You Sure You Want Fries With That?

Yet another reason to avoid fried and processed foods: certain food preparation methods leads to the formation of chemicals that pose a potential health concern.

First detected in certain foods in April 2002 by the Swedish National Food Authority, acrylamide is a chemical that naturally forms in certain foods (particularly starchy foods that are rich in carbohydrates and low in protein) during processing or high-temperature cooking, such as frying, roasting, and baking.

The highest concentrations of acrylamide have been detected in potato chips and french fries. It is also found in cigarette smoke.

The Joint Food and Agriculture Organization/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) has identified dietary exposure to acrylamide as a potential concern. Acrylamide is known to cause cancer in animals, and at elevated doses it is toxic to the nervous system of both animals and humans. In addition, an 11-year prospective study in the journal of Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention (Nov 2007) found that an increased risk of endometrial and ovarian cancer was associated with higher intake of acrylamide from food.

The exact temperature at which acrylamide forms in food has yet to be determined, but it has so far not been found in food prepared at temperatures below 120 degrees Celsius (248 Fahrenheit). Boiling and steaming do not typically form acrylamide.

The take-home message: avoid fried and processed foods. Your body will thank you. Good luck and great health from