Seven years ago, scientists discovered that acrylamide, a chemical used in making various industrial and consumer products, also occurs as a byproduct in certain foods that are cooked at high temperatures, such as french fries and potato chips. There is some evidence that acrylamide increases the risk of cancer in animals and possibly people.
As reported by Tom Blackwell writing for Canada’s National Post, Health Canada has proposed that food companies use another substance in their cooking process, a cancer-fighting drug called asparaginase, an enzyme that is said to reduce the production of acrylamide by as much as 90 percent.
In the proposal, the Canadian health agency suggests that it would remove the prescription requirement for use of asparaginase, except when it is injected into leukemia patients as a treatment. Dropping this requirement would free manufacturers to use small amounts of the enzyme in their cooking process. Manufacturers â€˜fully supportâ€™ the move, Derek Nighbor of Food and Consumer Products of Canada, said in a statement.
Health Canada is accepting feedback on the idea for 75 days, and could implement it in six to eight months, the government said.
Dr. Lorelei Mucci, a Harvard Medical School assistant professor who studies the issue, says that evidence of a carcinogenic effect from acrylamide is unclear. And Dr. Mucci also cautions that the â€˜downstream effectsâ€™ of using asparaginase to counter the chemical in food should be studied carefully.
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