Cancer Warning on Fries?

If the attorney general of California has his way, your “fries with that” may come with an unpleasant bit of copy: a cancer warning. That’s according to a New York Times article.

Bill Lockyer, the state’s AG, says that studies have proven that French fries and most fried potato products contain acrylamide, a known carcinogen. (Both chips and fries are already known for their saturated fat, trans fats and sodium levels.)

The chemical is not an additive, but forms when starches are subjected to high heat.

According to one survey firm, NPD Group, fries are the food most frequently eaten in restaurants. In fact, $7 billion a year are spent on fries and chips in the US. Therfore, the new California warning could change America’s eating habits.

Will there be scarey commercials urging kids to stop that nasty, smelly French fry habit. Will parents be urged to talk with their kids about the dangers of fried potatoes in any form?

Maybe not, but Lockyer has filed suit against McDonald’s, Burger King, Frito Lay anbd six other food companies to force them to include warning labels on their products. The label might say “This product contains a chemical known to the state of California to cause cancer.”

The FDA opposes the labeling law on the grounds that the no one knows what the dangerous levels of acrylamide in food are. More studies are needed, according to the agency.

A food industry research group says that California is singling out junk food unecessarily, as other foods such as whole wheat toast, and black olives contain the substance. (Lower levels are in bread, crackers, and peanut butter.) By the California attorney general’s office counters that fried potato products contain higher levels and constitute a larger portion of an average America’s diet.