Regular readers will not be surprised to learn that the food cops at the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) are once again throwing a fit about dietary acrylamide, which hasn’t caused anyone so much as a hiccup. CSPI’s new acrylamide assault is wackier than ever. They now want warning labels on — get this — exactly half of all foods that contain acrylamide. And not even the half with the most dietary acrylamide. Instead, CSPI is asking for warning labels on all foods with above-average acrylamide levels in their category. So even if every cupcake on the planet has more acrylamide than every jar of tomato sauce, 50 percent of cupcakes would get warning labels, and 50 percent of tomato sauces would get warning labels. Think that’s crazy? Welcome to California.
The warning label CSPI wants on jam, spinach, and Tater Tots reads: “This product contains chemicals known to the State of California to cause cancer and/or birth defects or other reproductive harm.” California’s Proposition 65 law requires that label slapped on any number of products, without regard to whether anyone will actually suffer health effects.
In fact, acrylamide in food (discovered by Swedish scientists last year) is not known to cause cancer in humans. Both major studies investigating the potential links between dietary acrylamide and cancer concluded that no such association exists.
But that doesn’t matter to CSPI, which is using trumped-up fears of acrylamide to scare consumers away from foods like French fries and potato chips. In a petition to the FDA earlier this year, the group wildly claimed that thousands of Americans contract cancer each year because of dietary acrylamide. CSPI’s work was so flawed that the Center for Consumer Freedom submitted a retort to the FDA, pointing out both CSPI’s errors and its outright lies.
So far, the FDA is rightfully ignoring CSPI’s acrylamide scare tactics. Last month FDA deputy commissioner Lester Crawford said that “more information is needed” about the effects of dietary acrylamide, and that warning labels “might be misleading.”