Four food manufacturers agreed to reduce levels of a cancer-causing chemical in their potato chips and french fries under a settlement announced Friday by the state attorney general's office.
The companies avoided trial by agreeing to pay a combined $3 million in fines and reduce the levels of acrylamide in their products over three years, officials said.
"Other companies should follow this lead," Attorney General Jerry Brown said, calling the settlements "a victory for public health."
Acrylamide forms naturally when starchy foods are baked or fried. Studies have shown the chemical, which also has industrial uses, causes cancer in lab animals and nerve damage to workers who are exposed to high levels. The Food and Drug Administration is researching whether acrylamide in food poses a health risk.
"Everybody's trying to figure out
how to lower levels (of acrylamide) without
significantly, adversely affecting taste," said Michele Corish, an attorney for Lance, which produces
Corish said the modified snacks will be available nationwide. Messages left with the other three companies did not immediately return phone calls Friday night.
The attorney general's office said the
levels of acrylamide in most
Corish said "Robust Russets" chips are no longer being sold.
According to the terms of the
settlements, Frito-Lay, which is owned by PepsiCo Inc. and produces most of
the chips sold in
The state also sued McDonald's Corp.; Wendy's International Inc.; Burger King Corp.; KFC, a subsidiary of Yum Brands Inc.; and Procter & Gamble Co. over acrylamide levels in 2005. Those lawsuits were settled after the companies agreed to either properly label their products or lower levels of the chemical.
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