Acrylamide is formed in some baked, fried and roasted foods. It is also present in tobacco smoke. Smokers are exposed to particularly high levels of acrylamide.
Acrylamide is a carcinogen. It was added to the Proposition 65 list in 1990 because studies showed it produced cancer in laboratory rats and mice. In February 2011, acrylamide was added to the Proposition 65 list as causing reproductive and developmental effects because, in studies of laboratory animals, acrylamide affected the growth of offspring exposed in the womb and caused genetic damage that resulted in the death of mouse and rat embryos.
Plant-based foods that are rich in carbohydrates can form acrylamide when baked, fried or roasted – whether they are cooked at home, in restaurants or by commercial food processors and manufacturers. French fries, potato chips, other fried and baked snack foods, coffee, roasted grain-based coffee substitutes, roasted asparagus, canned sweet potatoes and pumpkin, canned black olives, roasted nuts, prune juice, breakfast cereals, crackers, cookies, breads, and toast all may contain varying amounts of acrylamide. Foods that have been boiled or steamed do not contain acrylamide.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and other health and scientific organizations continue to study the health effects of acrylamide in food. The FDA has not advised people at this time to stop eating products that contain acrylamide. The FDA does advise people to quit smoking.
More information on acrylamide in food can be found at the external web sites listed below.
U.S. Food and Drug Administration
National Cancer Institute
National Toxicology Program