What is Acrylamide?
Acrylamide pops up at high temperatures. The chemical emerges naturally. It happens when high-carbohydrate, plant-based foods get cooked at temperatures greater than 120 degrees Celcius. But, the Swedish National Food Authority originally discovered acrylamide in food in 2002. We don’t know the length of time it has been present in food, though. (Acrylamide)
You can find the artificially-made acrylamide in industrial products. This includes: “grouts and cement, pulp and paper production, ore processing, permanent-press fabrics, and dye manufacture. It is also used to produce polyacrylamide, which is used in water and wastewater treatment, soil conditioning, and oil drilling.” (OEHHA)
Not many Americans know about the harmful effects of Acrylamide, both produced naturally and artificially. In high dosages, it can affect the nervous system in those exposed to the chemical for a long duration. This includes those who work at water treatment facilities. Not only can it affect the nervous system but acrylamide can negatively affect the endocrine system by causing estrogen levels to sky-rocket thus causing cancers such as “ovarian and endometrial” (National).
More cancers could have links to this chemical. As more Americans develop cancer each year, it’s possible that an estrogen levels imbalance may cause a large number of cancers. This is partially due to the “American diet” which causes both male and females levels of estrogen to be abnormal.
‘“I estimate that acrylamide causes several thousand cancers per year in Americans,” said Clark University research professor Dale Hattis. Hattis is an expert in risk analysis. He based his estimate on standard EPA projections of risks from animal studies and limited sampling of acrylamide levels in Swedish and American foods (Center)”
Water and Food Contamination
Before 1974, drinking water would often carry acrylamide. There was not a limitation of contamination by polyacrylamide used in water treatment services and raw water contamination by products that contained the chemical. Then, in 1974, Congress passed the Safe Drinking Water Act. “This law requires EPA to determine the level of contaminants in drinking water at which no adverse health effects are likely to occur.” (EPA)
The limitation for acrylamide is zero. According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a large order of McDonald’s French fries, about 6.2 ounces, contains 82 micrograms of acrylamide. That order has at least 300 times more than EPA’s limitation of this dangerous chemical. McDonald’s foods are not the only foods that contain acrylamide. You can also find it in most potato foods, grains, and coffees. Mcdonalds fries and bakes plant-based foods at a temperature greater than 120 degrees Celsius. That’s equivalent to 248 degrees Fahrenheit.
Starting in April of 2002, the FDA had started conducting research on various foods that may contain acrylamide and its toxicity and posted questions and answers about the chemical. As of today, there has been no further action by the FDA in regards to regulating acrylamide in food. Although, the FDA had suggested that meals that are cooked for long periods of time and/or foods that are cooked at very high temperatures such as baked, fried or roasted are at a higher risk for producing acrylamide.
Dairy products and meats tend to be less likely to accumulate it. If it does, it’s at very low amounts. To avoid acrylamide, you should boil and steam food instead. (FDA)