Filed Under: Food Police Snacks

The FDA Puts Acrylamide in Perspective

Last spring, über-food-cop Michael Jacobson of the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) complained that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had been “strangely silent about acrylamide.” Yesterday the FDA spoke up, but it didn’t warn “consumers to avoid or cut back [on] french fries” like Jacobson wanted. Instead, as the Associated Press reports, the FDA counseled Americans: “Don’t change your diet.”

That’s bad news for Jacobson, who continues to claim that acrylamide “causes several thousand deaths in the U.S. each year.” But don’t expect CSPI to repent for outrageous claims like this, or for collaborating with trial lawyers trying to cash in on the acrylamide scare.

We noted last month that the British Journal of Cancer reported no link between acrylamide intake and cancer. But yesterday’s news confirms that CSPI’s position is not only incorrect, but laughable. Weighted by calories, approximately 38 percent of the foods we eat contain acrylamide. FDA scientist Donna Robie concluded: “No one food is contributing to the majority of the acrylamide.”

Toast, breakfast cereal, cookies, and coffee — as well as spinach and beets — all contain small amounts of acrylamide. But small amounts is all we were talking about to begin with. The original Swedish study that sounded the acrylamide alarm fed it to rats in unrealistic, massive quantities; to get an equivalent dose, humans would have to eat more than 60 pounds of potato chips every day, for life.

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