On June 25 the World Health (WHO) organization began to consider what, if any, health consequences might result from the discovery of minute amounts of acrylamide in a wide range of foods. Twenty-seven of the world's top experts are now in Geneva considering this important question. A press conference will be held at 10:00 EDST on the 27th in Geneva, Switzerland to discuss the Consultation's findings. The Snack Food Association is prepared to provide on-the-record commentary regarding the WHO's conclusions.
Although in April 2002 the Swedish National Food Authority issued the first-ever findings that acrylamide, a known carcinogen in animals, is present in high levels in some starch-based foods cooked at high temperatures, it is important for you to know that the Swedish methodology has not been peer-reviewed or published in any professional journal.
Recently food activists released the results of a theoretical computer model that suggests minute amounts of acrylamide in the American food system may cause "several thousand cancers per year." However, these estimates are based on a study in rats, not humans. While acrylamide causes cancer in rats, there is no evidence it does the same in people. In fact, a different model could predict the actual theoretical risk to consumers is zero. What is important here is that it is far too early to draw any definitive conclusions from the limited data that has been made available to the scientific community.
Since acrylamides appear in about 90 percent of the food supply, nutrition policy decisions should be based on a large number of samples taken from a very wide array of food products. Only then, can we determine with any degree of specificity what consumers actually eat, and what risk, if any, that consumption presents.
The snack food industry will work closely with the WHO and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to get the answers to these questions as quickly as possible. In the meantime, eating a moderate amount of a wide variety of foods, including potato chips, continues to make the best nutritional sense. Changing dietary consumption at this time will not increase public safety.
Producers and reporters note: B-roll is available showing the wide range of foods that may include acrylamides and the views of an internationally recognized toxicologist.
The Snack Food Association is an international trade association of more than 700 member companies that represent snack manufacturers and suppliers to the snack industry. Snacks produced and sold by SFA members include potato chips, tortilla chips, corn chips, pretzels, popcorn, crackers, extruded snacks, meat snacks, pork rinds, snack nuts, party mix and other snacks. Retail sales of snack foods in the U.S. total more than $32 billion annually.