In 1986, California voters approved Proposition 65, an initiative intended to keep residents safe from dangerous chemicals and environmental toxins. The law requires the state to publish a list of chemicals known to cause cancer, birth defects, and reproductive harm, and requires businesses to notify customers if any of their products contain them. If you live in California, you’ve probably seen these warnings posted in coffee shops and storefronts.
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.
Acrylamide has only been shown to be a carcinogen at extremely high doses— It has been reported you’d have to eat 182 pounds of French fries a day to reach the level of proven cancer-causing exposure.
California requires the following notice:
WARNING: Chemicals known to the State of California to cause cancer and birth defects or other reproductive harm, including acrylamide, are present in coffee and some roasted nuts, baked goods and snack foods such as chips. Acrylamide is not added to these products, but results naturally from the roasting, baking or cooking process. The FDA has not advised people to stop consuming foods that are fried, roasted, or baked. For more information regarding the FDA’s views, visit www.fda.gov.