Food expert says more tests needed before fried foods are tabled

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- A Purdue University foods and nutrition associate professor is one of the nation's experts invited to Chicago at the end of the month to discuss the discovery of a potential carcinogen in starchy, fried foods.

"An ad hoc group, composed of food industry, trade association, and academic and government representatives, is bringing together food and nutrition experts to assess where we are on this topic and to plot the course for future action," said Charles Santerre, who specializes in chemical contaminants in food.

The workshop, Monday through Wednesday (10/28-10/30), is part of the annual National Center for Food Safety and Technology Conference that is sponsored by the Food and Drug Administration.

Six months ago the Swedish Food Authority reported that some of our favorite foods, such as potato chips and french fries, may contain acrylamide. At high levels, acrylamide has been shown to cause cancer in animals. The implications of the Swedish findings motivated the World Health Organization to rapidly convene international experts to discuss the impact of this discovery.

"The Food and Drug Administration is taking this very seriously, but there are holes in the data that can't be answered overnight," said Santerre, who began studying this topic more closely this spring and is well known for his research on contaminants in food. "We do know that we have been eating fried and baked foods for hundreds of years with no apparent adverse effects."

In April the Swedish Food Authority reported a wide range of acrylamide concentrations when examining a small number of starchy and fried foods. The amounts ranged from 30 to 2,300 parts per billion. Acrylamide is considered to be a probable human carcinogen and is a known neurotoxicant, said Joanne Lasrado, doctoral candidate in foods and nutrition at Purdue. The substance is a white crystalline, water-soluble compound that is used in the paper, paint, leather ta

Contact: Amy Patterson-Neubert
Purdue University

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