European food watchdogs have honed in on a chemical found in food — from coffee, chips, and toast to crackers and certain types of baby food — which they believe to be a cancer risk. According to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), the chemical poses the biggest threat to children, as they are most exposed to it. The chemical in question is called acrylamide and it is created when food is roasted, browned, or fried.
“EFSA has confirmed previous evaluations that, based on animal studies, acrylamide in food potentially increases the risk of developing cancer for consumers in all age groups,” write the authors of a consultation paper, reports the Daily Mail. “Coffee, fried potato products, biscuits, crackers and crisp breads, soft bread and certain baby foods are important dietary sources of acrylamide. On a body weight basis, children are the most exposed age groups.”
The EFSA, which has known of the potential risks of acrylamide, hopes to place legal limits on the food industry to reduce the amount of the chemical found in supermarket and restaurant products. Additionally, a public health campaign would have to be implemented in order to give advice to those who cook at home about how to lower levels of acrylamide in home cooked meals.