California Warns the State About Acrylamide In Coffee
A California judge ruled that sellers of coffee must post warnings about possible cancer risks from acrylamide in coffee to comply with Prop 65. I have talked a lot about coffee lately from the effects of caffeine to the potentially endocrine disrupting effects of the lining of the coffee cup. And, now back in the news, kind of like a re-birth of 2013 is acrylamide in coffee and its potential cancer causing effects.
Coffee "May Cause Cancer" Labels
California judge rules that coffee companies apart of the National Coffee Association
must display warning labels on coffee such as “may cause cancer” to comply with Prop 65. The National Coffee Association includes Dunkin' Brands, Inc., International Coffee & Tea, LLC, Starbucks Coffee Company and Tim Hortons among numerous others. You can check out the entire list of companies by goinghere.
It is not just coffee producing companies, the Council for Education and Research on Toxics, filed a lawsuit in 2010 against establishments that sell coffee such as Starbucks, gas station vendors, convenience stories like 7-Eleven, and others to add the toxic warning to the cups of coffee they sell.
According to an Associated Press article, about a dozen of the defendants in the 2010 case have previously settled and agreed to post warnings on coffee cups, with some defendants dismissed or affiliated with larger companies about 50 defendants remain. Among the latest to settle was 7-Eleven, which agreed to pay $900,000.
BP West Coast Products, which operates gas station convenience stores, agreed to pay $675,000. According to the California attorney generals office any business violating Proposition 65 could face penalties of up to $2,500 per day for each violation.
What is California's Prop 65?
The California’s Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act, known as Proposition 65 passed in 1986 requires businesses importing and selling goods to California to provide warning labels when exposing consumers to any of the hundreds of chemicals listed that California considers to cause cancer or negatively impact reproductive harm.
Does Acrylamide in Coffee Cause Cancer?
You will find that there are numerous studies indicating that acrylamide coffee does not cause cancer including studies that are not funded by the National Coffee Association. So, why is it that the California judge ruled in favor of Prop 65?
It comes down to studies reviewed by the American Cancer Society. A 1988 review found data showing that acrylamide is capable of inducing genotoxic, carcinogenic, developmental, and reproductive effects in tested organisms. Thus, acrylamide may pose more than a neurotoxic health hazard to exposed humans.
What is Acrylamide?
Video; California Coffee Shops Will Warn Customers About This Possibly Cancer-Causing Chemical. Here's What to Know About It. TIME Health
What is Acrylamide?
"Acrylamide is a potentially toxic and potentially cancer-causing substance that can be naturally present in uncooked, raw foods in very small amounts. But for this substance to pose a risk of toxicity or cancer, it must be present in foods in much larger amounts, and these larger amounts do not occur unless those foods have been cooked. "
Outside of food, According to theU.S. Department of Health and Human Services; National Cancer Institute
"Acrylamide is a chemical used primarily to make substances called polyacrylamide and acrylamide copolymers.Polyacrylamide and acrylamide copolymers are used in many industrial processes, such as the production of paper, dyes, and plastics, and in the treatment of drinking water and wastewater, including sewage. They are also found in consumer products, such as caulking, food packaging, and some adhesives."
According to a 2006 study measuring urinary mercapturic acids in smokers versus non smokers indicate that acrylamide, used in the manufacture of polyacrylamide and grouting agents, is also present in the diet and tobacco smoke. The same review advises since there is
'sufficient evidence' of carcinogenicity in experimental animals as outlined under the U.S. EPA proposed guidelines for carcinogen risk assessment, acrylamide should be categorized as a 'B2' carcinogen and therefore be considered a 'probable human carcinogen.'
A 1995 review of Acrylamide genotoxicity and an assessment of heritable genetic risk looking at exposures of male parents to acrylamide via inhalation, ingestion, and dermal routes found that
"offspring from fathers exposed to acrylamide via drinking water are up to three offspring potentially affected with induced genetic disease per 10(8) offspring. Estimates for inhalation or dermal exposures suggest higher risks for induced genetic disease in offspring from fathers exposed in occupational settings."
Looking at two specific studies; lab animals and humans the American Cancer Society finds it’s not yet clear if acrylamide affects cancer risk in people. According to a2014 Report on Carcinogens, the National Toxicology Program has classified acrylamide as “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen” based on the studies in lab animals. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) classifies acrylamide as “likely to be carcinogenic to humans” based on studies in lab animals.
Which Foods Have Acrylamide?
Acrylamide In Coffee and Other Foods; Here's What You Need to Know.
According to the American Cancer society acrylamide is found in both home-cooked and in packaged or processed foods. Levels of acrylamide in foods vary widely depending on the manufacturer, the cooking time, and the method and temperature of the cooking process.
Think you are off this hook because you eat and drink only organic? Think again. Acrylamide foods is not reserved for just conventional foods, it also includes organic.
In natural foods, including organic, acrylamide is produced naturally when starches in foods are subjected to high temperatures (above 250 degrees Fahrenheit, or 121 degrees Celsius). Think of anything roasted, toasted, grilled and baked foods with a crust. High-carbohydrate foods produce more acrylamide than high-protein foods.
It Comes Down to the Maillard Reaction
Acrylamide foods is also known as the Maillard reaction named after French chemist Louis-Camille Maillard, who first described it in 1912 while attempting to reproduce biological protein synthesis. It is a whole complex of chemical reactions between reducing sugars and principally free amino acids and peptides (usually from proteins) when heated; whose pathway and outcomes depend critically on factors such as pH and temperature.
It is this reaction that gives browned food its distinctive flavor. Seared steaks, pan-fried dumplings, cookies and other kinds of biscuits, breads, toasted marshmallows, as well as many other foods, undergo this reaction.
What About Coffee and Acrylamide?
A 2013 study looked at commercial samples of roasted, instant coffee and in coffee substitutes and the influence of coffee species and colour intensity of coffee on acrylamide level. The study found roasting process had the most significant effect on acrylamide levels in natural coffee, however there were no relationships found with coffee species. Due to the high acrylamide levels demonstrated in coffee substitutes, recommended amounts should be defined and manufacturers should be obliged to reduce such levels in these products.
How much Acrylamide Is In Coffee?
According to CBS News Article, Coffee cancer warning: What Science Says About the Actual Risk
"Food and Drug Administration tests of acrylamide levels found they ranged from 175 to 351 parts per billion (a measure of concentration for a contaminant) for six brands of coffee tested; the highest was for one type of decaf coffee crystals. By comparison, French fries at one fast food chain ranged from 117 to 313 parts per billion, depending on the location tested. Some commercial fries had more than 1,000."
When looking at the studies California’s Judge Elihu Berle wrote in a proposed decision that coffee companies failed to prove the health benefits of coffee taking into account acrylamide.
Acrylamide In Food and Acrylamide Foods (during manufacturing)
For a complete acrylamide in food list including baby foods check out the following;
How To Reduce Acrylamide In Cooking
According to the American Cancer Society here are some tips on reducing Acrylamide levels.
Does Acrylamide in Coffee Cause Cancer?
The studies cannot conclusively agree if coffee or any other food causes cancer. When it comes to foods and coffee research it is usually focusing on one compound. In the case of coffee, coffee has numerous antioxidant compounds. Researchers will pick a compound and research its health benefits through studies. The problem is one compound does not show the overall effect, the interaction with physiology and each person's genetic make-up.
There are other foods on the market that in their singular component do not cause cancer however, when combined with body fluids there may be a chance. The problem is there are numerous variables including, the metabolism and physiology of the person, age, weight, gender and so on. What is being revealed about studies including processed refined foods and cancer is showing there is a relationship to illness including cancer.
According to a study in theJournal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), data on 43,404 Swedish women were evaluated from the years 1991 through 2002. During the time period of the study, out of the 43,304 women, there were 667 cases of breast cancer. For all the women, their lifestyle and dietary habits were scrutinized. Looking at acrylamide levels in their diet it was found that
“Compared with the lowest quintile of acrylamide intake, there was no significantly increased risk of breast cancer in the higher quintiles and no evidence of a linear dose response.”
What About Acrylamide In Coffee Brands?
If you want to air on the side caution, according to a Natural News Article, Love coffee but not the toxicity? Minimize health risks with these tips, reported the Journal Royal Society of Chemistry, University of Porto in Portugal found that there was a difference of acrylamide in coffee brands.
Looking at coffee with lowest acrylamide the study found
"...specific types of coffee have lower levels of acrylamide. Alves and her team found that light roasts contain significantly more acrylamide than dark ones. Bean type also appears to affect acrylamide levels and Robusta espressos contain almost twice as much acrylamide as their Arabica counterparts.”
If you are looking for coffee with lowest acrylamide
“opt for higher levels of Arabica beans and a darker roast. A short espresso rather than a 'lungo', which takes twice as long to prepare, may also have a lower level of acrylamide because the chemical has less opportunity to transfer to the drink.”
Graphic courtesy AuthorityDiet.com Acrylamide in Coffee: Cancer and Heart Disease Risk?
Does Organic Coffee Have Acrylamide?
I could not find any specific articles on acrylamide in organic coffee. A bit disappointing, indeed. I would like to assume that acrylamide in organic coffee is lower, but I am not going to make that claim especially after learning there are indeed different levels of acrylamide in coffee brands. And, given the fact that acrylamide is in coffee in general it would be in organic too.
I know personally, if I was to drink coffee I would choose shade grown, free trade, organic coffee from the Arabica beans and a darker roast (as mentioned above). At the very least, I would make sure those coffee beans were not from genetically altered plants to avoid any potential effects of genetically altered coffee. Since we do not know fully how GMOs work and interact with our body chemistry I would rather aire on the side of caution.
After looking at the numerous studies on GMOs and genetically altering foods for the ease of growing, the long term effects are unknown. I think about things like acrylamide. Could it be that an adverse reaction during the alteration process produces more acrylamide in coffee? I don’t know, I do not have the answer on that.
Is there Acrylamide in Cold Brew Coffee?
What about cold brew coffee? Is cold brew coffee good for you?
Cold brew coffee is created by steeping medium-to-coarse roasted ground coffee in room temperature water for 12-24 hours or longer. This allows for the natural extraction of essential oils, caffeine and flavour. To have the perfect cold brew coffee you then filter out the grounds.
Here is the problem I see with acrylamide and cold brew coffee. The cold brew coffee method uses roasted coffee beans. The chemical, acrylamide, is produced during the coffee bean roasting process.
It would come down to the beans used and how those beans were manufactured before you cold brew them. It would mean, if you want to choose the lowest acrylamide you would need to choose coffee with lowest acrylamide just like its hot coffee counterpart discussed above.
Acrylamide and Cancer, Could It Be An Accumulative Effect?
Think about it, if the average person is drinking 1-2 cups of coffee (usually 32 ounce sizes-acrylamide) and food choices consist of some form of bread (muffin, toast, bagel-acrylamide) hamburger for lunch (charred meat, toasted bun -acrylamide ) with french fries (acrylamide) and a quick microwaved pasta (acrylamide) for dinner; what’s the accumulative effect? How is the accumulative acrylamide calculated over a year, ten or thirty years? We do not know.
Now take into effect the environment. Studies indicate acrylamide is found in drinking water, cosmetics, personal care products, tobacco, second hand smoke and vinyls along with other products. Since acrylamide can be ingested through the mouth, nose and skin; what is the accumulative effect? What is the accumulative effect plus the accumulative acrylamide in food? We do not know, this has not been studied.
What I have seen personally over the years working in integrative centers and in my own practice, is those who have inflammatory type conditions, disease and cancer have a similar type of diet. Unfortunately their diets involved processed refined, packaged foods, caffeinated beverages and little whole foods. Is there a connection? We may never know.
Now It's Your Turn
What are your thoughts on Acrylamide in Coffee and in foods?
Are you willing to change your diet to avoid acylamide in foods?
What are you not willing to change or give up regadrless of how much acyrlamide is in the foods
Your comments, thoughts, views and praise are always appreciated.
Let's get the conversation started with you commenting below.