The chemical compound acrylamide is known to cause cancer. It is found in
many potato and starchy consumer products, such as potato chips and French
fries, when they are heated to high temperatures. California just won a court-approved
settlement over potato chip manufacturers in which they agree to reduce
levels of acrylamide in their potato chips.
The chemical compound acrylamide (acrylic
amide) is a white, orderless crystalline solid
with the chemical formula C3H5NO. Acrylamide is mostly
used as a thickener in such industrial processes as wastewater treatment,
gel electrophoresis, paper-making, ore processing, and permanent-press
However, as of 2002, it was discovered to be produced in starchy foods when
they are heated to high temperatures in such “browning” methods as baking,
frying, and deep-frying. It can also be created through the microwaving of
Most uncooked foods do not contain any measureable amounts of acrylamide. It is also not produced when foods are
heated by boiling.
It is, however, frequently found in large amounts in such starchy foods as
potato chips, French fries, and bread.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has
analyzed a variety of U.S.
consumer foods for levels of acrylamide. The
listing of these foods and their measured amounts of acrylamide
is found at the FDA website “Survey Data
on Acrylamide in Food: Individual Food Products.”
The U.S. state of California recently
settled a lawsuit against potato chip manufacturers. In 2005, California had first
sued fast-food chains and potato chip companies over acrylamide
in 2005. The settlement, the culmination of three years of suing, involves
the companies of H.J. Heinz Co., Frito-Lay, Kettle Foods Inc., and Lance
The 2005 lawsuit alleged that the companies violated a state requirement
concerning the posting of warning labels on products containing carcinogens