Aug 28, 2015 Uncategorized Comments Off on Brown sugar found to have high levels of possible carcinogen (Taiwan News)
Taipei, Aug. 28 (CNA) Testing of 19 brands of brown sugar sold in farmers markets and supermarket chains around Taiwan found that they all contain the suspected carcinogen acrylamide (or acrylic amide), and health authorities warned people of consuming too much of it. At a press conference Friday, Taipei-based Common Health Magazine released the results of the tests, which found that of the 19 products scrutinized, brown sugar purchased at a farmers market contained the highest level of acrylamide at 2,740 g/kg (parts per billion). Seven of the brown sugars tested contained acrylamide amounts above 1,000 g/kg. The brown sugar with the lowest level of the carcinogen was found to have an acrylamide level of 30 g/kg. The 30-2,740 g/kg range is higher than the 10-1,448 g/kg range suggested by Taiwan’s health authorities in 2003 for fried and baked foods. The 19 packs of brown sugar tested were purchased from organic supermarket chains, hypermarkets, regular supermarket chains and farmers markets, according to a report on the study that will be published in the September edition of the Chinese-language monthly magazine. Cheng Wei-chih (???), a section chief with the Food and Drug Administration’s Division of Food Safety, said neither the international community nor Taiwan has set a maximum permissible level for acrylamide. But he said the Ministry of Health and Welfare has conducted many discussions and studies on the chemical compound, and it published a reference manual in 2012 for the food industry that explained how to reduce acrylamide in food products. Magazine representatives said, however, that the manual has never been properly disseminated and some food companies still do not know what acrylamide is, and they urged the government to take the issue seriously. Acrylamide is a white odorless crystalline solid that is soluble in water, ethanol and chloroform. It is used in wastewater treatment, paper making, ore processing, oil recovery, and the manufacture of permanent press fabrics. The substance is also found in fried foods or foods cooked at high heats for extended amounts of time, including potato chips, french fries, coffee and bread. According to Cancer.gov, acrylamide appears to form at temperatures above 120 degrees Celsius. Brown sugar is vulnerable because of the way it is processed.
Chen Chun-chi (???), an instructor in food production techniques at the School of Continuing Education of Chinese Culture University, said brown sugar is produced by repeatedly cooking and stirring cane juice in a large wok. He said adding magnesium chloride in cane juice before heating it, keeping the temperature from surpassing 120 Celsius degrees, and pressing peeled cane for juice are the best ways to reduce the formation of acrylamide when making brown sugar. Though acrylamide has been found to pose a risk of several types of cancer in animals, the evidence from human studies remains incomplete, according to cancer.gov. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency believes it is likely to be carcinogenic to humans and in 2010 the European Chemicals Agency listed it as a substance of very high concern. Wu Kuen-yu (???), a professor of occupational medicine and industrial hygiene at National Taiwan University, confirmed that the substance was clearly carcinogenic in animals and was found likely to cause genetic damage to the nervous system. But because it has still not been determined whether acrylamide causes cancer in humans, governments have been unable to set a safe intake level, Wu said. (By Chen Wei-ting and Elizabeth Hsu)