UN agencies call for additional research into possible cancer risk of fried foods
Following an expert consultation held in Geneva, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) concluded that while most people do not consume high enough levels of the substance to produce nerve damage, the problem of acrylamide in food is a major concern because it might cause cancer in humans.
Responding to recent findings by Swedish researchers, who announced in April that acrylamide is present in certain foods cooked at high temperatures, the agencies called for a closer look at the health risks.
"After reviewing all the available data, we have concluded that the new findings constitute a serious problem, but our current limited knowledge does not allow us to answer all the questions which have been asked by consumers, regulators and other interested parties," said Dr. Dieter Arnold, chair of the FAO/WHO meeting, which brought together 23 scientific experts specializing in carcinogenicity, toxicology, food technology, biochemistry and analytical chemistry.
In the interim, the experts recommended that people eat a balanced and varied diet, including plenty of fruits and vegetables, while moderating their consumption of fried and fatty foods.
For their part, WHO and FAO plan to establish a network for research on acrylamide to achieve a better understanding of human exposure and its link to possible health effects.