On December 4, 2002 the FDA released the results of their preliminary testing of levels of the genotoxic chemical acrylamide in over 275 different samples of foods – by brand.
Idaho Spuds Mashed Potatoes, Mrs. Richardson’s Butterscotch Caramel Topping, Hershey’s Chocolate Milk Mix, and Gerber 2nd Foods Apples & Cherries all had no acrylamide found at all. Hershey’s Cocoa did, though. So did Cheerios. And high levels were found in most French fries and potato chips – often hundreds or even thousands of times the amount allowed by the EPA in a glass of water. Even Baked! Lay’s Original Naturally Baked Potato Crisps had shockingly high levels.
In addition to French fries and potato chips, the FDA tested other snack foods, infant formulas, protein foods, breads and bakery products, cereals, gravies and seasonings, nuts and nut butters, crackers, chocolate products, canned fruits and vegetables, frozen vegetables, dried foods, and dairy products.
Acrylamide has been found in many common foods. The Contaminants and Natural Toxicants Subcommittee of the Food Advisory Committee of the FDA is holding public meetings December 4 and 5 to discuss FDA’s action plan for addressing the issue of acrylamide in food.
The issue is growing more complex as acrylamide is found in more places. What seems to be important is not an individual serving of a food, but the total amount of acrylamide consumed.
Sadly, French fries and potato chips are among the most consumed foods by children.
The data suggest that increasing fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein sources in the diet has the added benefit of reducing acrylamide exposure.
Meanwhile, I can see no advantage of French fries or potato chips in kids’ diets that would outweigh the potential risks.