Industry Lets ACSH Do Talking

Published online: Apr 25, 2002
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United States potato growers, thrown a stinging fast ball by Swedish scientists, are coming back with a statement made by Dr. Elizabeth M. Wheland, president, of the American Council on Science and Health.

The Swedish report released April 24, said french fries, potato chips, breads and cereals—along with other high-carbohydrate food—may contain high levels of a compound that probably causes cancer.

Released by Swedish food authorities, the carcinogen, called acrylamide, appears to form when carbohydrates are heated in a certain way, such as by frying potatoes or baking bread.

The Swedes found that in french fries from Swedish outlets of the most popular American hamburger chains, they found 100 times the safe limit for acrylamides.

“There is no compelling evidence which supports…the claim by Swedish researchers that fried or baked foods high in starch introduces chemicals which increase the risk of cancer in humans,” Wheland said.

“We are deeply concerned that Americans will unnecessarily worry about safe, nutritious foods after hearing today’s news,” said Wheland.

“The claim that acrylamide, found in common foods such as potatoes and bread, after cooking, poses a human cancer risk, is based exclusively on high-does studies in laboratory animals.

“There is no evidence whatever that humans who eat the observed levels of acrylamide are exposed to any risk of any type of cancer,” she said.

Wheland continued that over the past 30 years scientists have become very sophisticated in interpreting findings of high-dose animal-ingestion studies. “Indeed the more we test naturally occurring chemicals present in food, the more we note that they, too, can increase cancer risk in the laboratory, but we have no reason to believe they play a role in the causation of human cancer.”

“Food is a highly emotional subject,” said Wheland, “and the news reports resulting from the alarmist study only proves that a rumor about food safety can be half way around the world before the truth gets its boots on.”