Acrylamide — that mysterious chemical substance formed by cooking carbohydrates like bread and potatoes — is back in the news again. Now it appears that in addition to French fries, breakfast cereal, and naturally sweet veggies like spinach and beets, those inclined to food paranoia (we hope CSPI is listening…) had better lay off the Latte. German researchers said on Tuesday that they had found acrylamide in 31 brands of ground coffee and espresso. The head of Germany’s coffee federation told the Reuters news service that the mysterious chemical is probably formed when coffee beans are roasted.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has noted that the whole acrylamide hysteria is “based on an analytical method that has yet to be validated.” And the lead researcher of the Swedish team that first discovered acrylamide in starchy foods has urged consumers not to make any dietary changes based on the preliminary report, saying that “It’s not more dangerous to eat these foods today than it was a year before.”
As we’ve been telling you, preliminary reports claiming that acrylamide was a “probable carcinogen” have been widely overblown. In the case of coffee, in fact, CNN reported just last week that it may turn out to be the basis for new drugs to fight cancer. And a new report this week from the National Academy of Sciences suggests that caffeine, the chemical stimulant found in coffee and tea, can lower the risk of skin cancer.