For their part the Canadian investigators have slaughtered some 12-hundred animals and still haven't found another case of Mad Cow. In the U.S., beef consumption during the high season for grilling has not been interrupted by health concerns. Indeed, if there are worries in this country about meat safety, its focus is on domestic processing practices. This week the government announced some new processing guidelines. But, even as the new regs were being released, another interest group, elsewhere in Washington, was calling for curbs to a cooking practice that is almost integral to American consumption.
Health advocates called on the government this week to set "interim acceptable levels" for acrylamide The recently discovered carcinogen forms when certain carbohydrate-rich foods are cooked at very high temperatures. Sample testing by the Food and Drug Administration found acrylamide in some of the more popular foods of the American diet, like French fries, potato chips, coffee, and even some baby foods.
Michael Jacobson, President, Center for Science in the Public Interest: "The amount of acrylamide that we get from our daily diet far exceeds what regulators consider acceptable. In fact, the amount the average person consumes is three times higher than the limit that the FDA set only last year to safeguard against neurotoxicity."
Part of the problem in setting limits is the wide brand-to-brand differences in acrylamide levels. For instance, acrylamide levels in potato chips ranged from more than 2500 parts per billion in Pringles Sweet Mesquite Flavored Chips … to 198 parts per billion in Wavy Lays.
On an interim basis, CSPI recommends the FDA set median levels of acrylamide for each product … and then require food processors to meet those levels.
Advocates for stronger regulation say processors can lower acrylamide levels simply by preparing ingredients differently, cooking at a lower temperature, or cooking for a shorter period of time.