Acrylamide: WHO issues alert

The World Health Authority has issued an alert after dangerously high levels of a cancer-producing substance called acrylamide was discovered in cooked potatoes and other common foodstuffs.

Experts are currently meeting at the WHO headquarters in Geneva to investigate a Swedish report of the discovery of dangerous levels of acrylamide in a variety of foodstuffs prepared with potatoes, maize, flour and rice. The British food Standards Agency later confirmed the findings and stated that the longer the products are cooked, the higher the levels.

The highest level of safe acrylamide ingestion per day is set at one microgramme by the WHO, however, the scientists pointed out that a portion of fried potatoes could contain many times this amount.

However, it should be pointed out that there is a difference between natural acrylamide and polymerised acrylamide, the latter being used in industry and the former being a naturally-produced short-chain molecular substance which is not nearly so toxic. American Indians seem to have survived the ordeal of eating potatoes for centuries. It was the Europeans which proved to be more of a problem.


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