Acrylamide – Know About What Potato Chips and Fries Do To Us

fries-potato-chipsAccording to Dr. Ben Kim, a Holistic Practitioner in Canada that I follow, this nasty compound called Acrylamide is found in so much of what we eat. He pointed out that after studying the story regarding Dan Gorske, the man who ate only McDonalds for one year, that was particularly interesting is that he almost never ate French fries.

French fries are the worst item on the menu at fast food restaurants. Sure, coca cola, processed cheese, and factory farmed meats aren’t much better. But what is it about deep-fried potatoes that makes them so harmful to health?

They are loaded with trans fats, known to cause immune system depression, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, sterility, birth defects, decreased ability to produce breast milk, loss of vision, and weakening of your bones and muscles.

French fries are also high in acrylamide, a carcinogen that is found in starchy foods that have been fried or baked at high temperatures.

The World Health Organization first began to look at the dangers of acrylamide in 2002 after the publication of a study in Sweden that linked acrylamide consumption with cancer. Since then, independent studies in the United States, Germany, Norway, Switzerland, and England have confirmed the link between acrylamide consumption and risk of developing cancer.

A few months after the original report out of Sweden, The Center for Science in the Public Interest in Washington, DC did its own study on the acrylamide content of the most common starchy foods in the North American diet. Their results were as follows:



Acrylamide (mcg)

McDonalds French Fries, large

6.2 oz.


Burger King French Fries, large

5.7 oz.


KFC Potato Wedges, Jumbo

6.2 oz.


Wendy’s French Fries, Biggie

5.6 oz.


Ore Ida French Fries (baked)

3 oz.


Pringles Potato Crisps

1 oz.


Fritos Corn Chips

1 oz.



1 oz.


Honey Nut Cheerios

1 oz.


Boiled Potatoes

4 oz.

less than 3


8 oz.

0.12 (EPA limit)

Put another way, the amount of acrylamide found in a large order of French fries at a fast food restaurant is at least three hundred times higher than what the Environmental Protection Agency allows in a glass of drinking water.

“I estimate that acrylamide causes several thousand cancers per year in Americans,” said Clark University research professor Dale Hattis. Hattis, an expert in risk analysis, based his estimate on standard EPA projections of risks from animal studies and limited sampling of acrylamide levels in Swedish and American foods.1

On June 16, 2005, the California-based Environmental Law Foundation filed notices with the state of California’s attorney general against:

Lay’s potato chip maker PepsiCo Inc.

Pringles maker Procter & Gamble Co.

Cape Cod potato chip parent Lance Inc.

Kettle Chips maker Kettle Foods Inc.

California law requires that companies warn their customers if their products contain known carcinogens. Acrylamide is listed by the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment as a chemical known to cause cancer.

Tests conducted by the Environmental Law Foundation indicated that these potato chip brands “far exceeded the levels requiring warning labels under California law.” Specifically, they noted that “Cape Cod Robust Russet potato chips exceeded the required warning level by 910 times, while Kettle Chips Lightly Salted chips exceeded the level by 505 times.”

Regardless of how this most recent legal battle goes, we are already well aware of the strong link between acrylamide consumption and risk of developing cancer. Please remember that raw or boiled potatoes test negative or very low for acrylamide. Acrylamide is formed in substantial quantities when starchy foods are fried or baked at high temperatures.

The bottom line is that we should minimize consumption of French fries and potato chips. So the next time that circumstances lead you to McDonalds, do yourself a favor and be like Don Gorske. Have a Big Mac and skip the fries. Better yet, have a salad from their lighter choices menu.

Courtesy of The Natural Nutrition Advisor.

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