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Cancer-Causing Chemical in Snack Foods, Teething Biscuits

March 26, 2004 -- The FDA says that acrylamide, a chemical believed to cause cancer, has been found in 750 foods tested -- including black olives, prune juice, and even teething biscuits.

Two years ago, a group of Swedish scientists made the landmark discovery, finding high levels of acrylamide in foods that were fried, baked, or roasted at high temperatures - such as America's favorite snacks.

In high doses, acrylamide is known to cause cancer and reproductive problems in animals. The FDA also considers it toxic to humans, according to today's statement.

However, it's a controversial subject. One study last year, also conducted in Sweden, found no evidence that acrylamide was toxic to humans.

Fresh Fruits, Veggies OK

The latest FDA testing shows that that higher levels of acrylamide are found in many more foods -- specifically, those high in potato and other carbohydrates, if they are processed at high temperatures.

French fries top the "bad" list. Also, packaged cookies, cereals, crackers, potato chips, pretzels, and peanut butter showed high levels of acrylamide.

Good news: Most dairy foods and infant formulas have little or no acrylamide, FDA testing showed. The FDA will continue testing products including 40 new infant formulas. Also, most uncooked meat, fish, and seafood had no acrylamide.

The FDA continues to advise consumers to eat a balanced diet -- one that is low in trans fat and saturated fat and rich in high-fiber grains, fruits, and vegetables.

SOURCE: FDA. WebMD Medical News: "Snack Food Cancer Risk Debunked."

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