CSPI Urges Food Industry to Follow FDA Draft Guidance on Acrylamide

Statement of CSPI Executive Director Michael F. Jacobson


In 2002, scientists and food manufacturers were surprised when a powerful carcinogen, acrylamide, was detected in many foods, including French fries, snack chips, coffee, breakfast cereals, toasted bread, and even some baby foods.

The food industry, the World Health Organization, and the Food and Drug Administration all acknowledge the risk posed by acrylamide in food. A decade ago the FDA said that acrylamide contamination was "alarming" and that it would address it "in a very serious way over a short period of time in the future," but action has been slow. The draft guidance the FDA issued for the industry today could help companies reduce acrylamide levels, at least in French fries, potato chips, cereals, and other potato-based and cereal-based products. Unfortunately, research has not identified ways to reduce acrylamide levels in coffee or other foods.

Ideally, where possible, the FDA would set limits on acrylamide levels. But until then, companies should follow the agency's guidance and take other steps to reduce acrylamide contamination. Consumers should still focus most of their attention on things like sodium and saturated fat, but could help minimize exposure at home by having lighter toast or French fries instead of darker toast or fries.

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Contact Jeff Cronin (jcronin[at]cspinet.org) or Ariana Stone (astone[at]cspinet.org).