Fact or Myth: Do Potato Chips Contain Cancer-Causing Chemicals?
This is a Fact.
The European Union conducted a 3-year long study to investigate Heat-generated Food Toxicants. The report, which was published at the end of 2007, declared that there are more then 800-heat induced compounds, 52 of which are possible carcinogens. One such carcinogen, a dangerous chemical known as acrylamide, has been shown to increase your risk of developing cancer and potentially lead to neurological disorders.
How Does This Neurotoxin Creep Into Our Food?
Perhaps the raw foodies are on to something, as acrylamide forms when we bake, fry, toast, roast or grill healthy, natural, plant-based foods at high temperatures. During cooking, sugars and an amino acid called asparagine can react to form this toxin. Starchy, carbohydrate-rich foods, such as potato chips and french fries contain the highest levels of acrylamide, but truthfully any food cooked at temperatures higher than 250 F/120 C pose a possible risk. Even coffee contains acrylamide!
According to the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, heated protein-rich foods contain moderate levels of the chemical (5−50 μg/kg). Foods rich in carbohydrates, such as potato, beetroot, commercial potato products and crispbread contain the highest levels (150−4000 μg/kg), while uncooked or boiled foods show miniscule levels (<5 μg/kg). Researchers maintain: “Consumption habits indicate that the acrylamide levels in the studied heated foods could lead to a daily intake of a few tens of micrograms.”
When a Trace Amount Can Have Tragic Consequences
In 2003 Swedish scientists investigated levels of acrylamide in popular dietary items, such as processed potato products, bread, cereal, biscuits, cookies and coffee.
Researchers approximated an average daily intake of 31 μg/kg, levels that both the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and World Health Organization (WHO) deem hazardous to health.