Acrylamide in Foods

What is acrylamide?

Acrylamide is a chemical compound that occurs as a solid crystal or in liquid solution. Its primary use is to make polyacrylamide and acrylamide copolymers. Trace amounts of the original (unreacted) acrylamide generally remain in these products. Polyacrylamide and acrylamide copolymers are used in many industrial processes, including production of paper, dyes, and plastics, and the treatment of drinking water, sewage and waste. They are also present in consumer products such as caulking, food packaging and some adhesives.

What are the known health effects of acrylamide?

Historically, exposure to high levels of acrylamide in the workplace has been shown to cause neurological damage.

Does acrylamide increase the risk of cancer?

Acrylamide has not been shown to cause cancer in humans. However, the relationship between acrylamide and cancer has not been studied extensively in humans. Because it has been shown to cause cancer in laboratory rats when given in the animals' drinking water, both the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in Lyon, France, consider acrylamide to be a probable human carcinogen. The National Toxicology Program's Ninth Report on Carcinogens states that acrylamide can be "reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen."

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