I had a friend share this picture on Facebook today. It comes from Jillian Michaels’ Facebook page, and here’s what she has to say about it. Most people will probably recognize her from The Biggest Loser.
“A fan posted this on my wall. Apparently California is requiring a warning label be put on McDonalds food. Like cigarettes. This is why I tell you never to eat this crap or feed it to your kids.”
Most of you readers probably have some common sense in your head and realize after actually reading this that it really doesn’t sound too bad. Sounds kind of normal to me actually. In my opinion something known to cause cancer in California doesn’t carry much weight, but let’s dig a little deeper and see what the FDA really has to say about acrylamide.
What is acrylamide?
Acrylamide is a chemical that can form in some foods during high-temperature cooking processes, such as frying, roasting, and baking. Acrylamide in food forms from sugars and an amino acid that are naturally present in food; it does not come from food packaging or the environment.
Seems pretty normal so far.
Is acrylamide found anywhere else? Does it have industrial uses?
Acrylamide is produced industrially for use in products such as plastics, grouts, water treatment products, and cosmetics. Acrylamide is also found in cigarette smoke.
Ok, so it is a little like cigarettes like Jillian said. Moving on.
Is acrylamide something new in food? When was acrylamide first detected in food?
Acrylamide has probably always been present in cooked foods. However, acrylamide was first detected in certain foods in April 2002.
So it’s probably always been there, yet we still survive as a species cooking our food. Not saying they shouldn’t check it out, but I’d bet it’s fine.
Is there a risk from eating foods that contain acrylamide?
Acrylamide caused cancer in animals in studies where animals were exposed to acrylamide at very high doses. Acrylamide causes nerve damage in people exposed to very high levels at work. FDA has not yet determined the exact public health impact, if any, of acrylamide from the much lower levels found in foods. FDA is conducting research studies to determine whether acrylamide in food is a potential risk to human health.
I think you’ll find this in a lot of studies. Exposure to just about anything at a high enough level is bad. Too much oxygen is bad for you.
Should I stop eating foods that are fried, roasted, or baked?
No, all these foods are part of a regular diet. FDA’s best advice for acrylamide and eating is that consumers adopt a healthy eating plan, consistent with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, that emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products; includes lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs, and nuts; and is low in saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, salt (sodium) and added sugars.
Are acrylamide levels in organic foods different from levels in other foods?
Since acrylamide is formed through cooking, acrylamide levels in cooked organic foods should be similar to levels in cooked non-organic foods.
No help there.
I shared this on my Facebook wall saying:
“Nice work Jillian Michaels. A friend shared this on my personal page. If you actually read the label and not what she says a little common sense will tell you that this is normal for many foods. Just because you give something the scientific chemical name does not make it bad. Don’t let scare tactics like this work on you. Use your brain and do your own homework. Everything in the world is made up of chemicals with big words that are hard to pronounce. By her logic we should be afraid of everything we touch every day.”
Then I got a comment:
“What about the DHMO problem that no one talks about (McDonald’s and every other fast food restaurant uses it in almost everything)? Dihydrogen monoxide is colorless, odorless, tasteless, and kills uncounted thousands of people every year. …Most of these deaths are caused by accidental inhalation of DHMO, but the dangers of dihydrogen monoxide do not end there. Prolonged exposure to its solid form causes severe tissue damage. Symptoms of DHMO ingestion can include excessive sweating and urination, and possibly a bloated feeling, nausea, vomiting and body electrolyte imbalance.”
Dihydrogen monoxide. Pretty clever! Sounds like water to me! If you do a search for DMHO study you’ll find some funny stuff.
That DMHO stuff just helps prove that giving something a big, long, scary sounding name doesn’t make it bad. Much to my surprise a lot of the comments on Jillian Michaels’ share of the picture were actually in line with what I’m saying here. That’s refreshing to see because many times people just take this stuff as the truth since fame seems to somehow give you credibility. Time for you guys to sound off and tell me what you think with a comment!
I’d like to add a related link from Jan at Slow Money Farm. In a recent episode of The View guest Rachel Ray made mention that “If you know the quality of your meat and you buy something that is organic or grass fed, you’re going to be fine if you like your burger a little pinker” when asked by Whoopi Goldberg if a little bit of pink in her burger was alright. Jan grows food organically herself, but was concerned that only the method of production was mentioned. There was no talk of cooking temperature. I understand it’s TV and they have to keep things moving, but you’d think a chef would make mention of that critical portion of food safety.
These two obviously very successful celebrity women must be good at what they do to have achieved so much. Let’s just remember that not everything an expert says is always the gospel truth.