Acrylamide

Why am I being warned about potential exposure to acrylamide?

  • Acrylamide is on the Proposition 65 list because it can cause cancer. Exposure to acrylamide may increase the risk of cancer.
  • Acrylamide is also on the Proposition 65 list because it can cause birth defects or other reproductive harm. It can affect the development of the fetus and can harm the male reproductive system. Levels in food are generally well below the levels currently believed to cause these harmful effects.
  • Proposition 65 requires businesses to determine if they must provide a warning about exposures to listed chemicals.

What is acrylamide?

  • Acrylamide is a chemical that is formed in certain plant-based foods during cooking or processing at high temperatures, such as frying, roasting, grilling, and baking. Boiling and steaming foods do not create acrylamide.
    • Sources of acrylamide in the diet include French fries, potato chips, other fried and baked snack foods, roasted asparagus, canned sweet potatoes and pumpkin, canned black olives, roasted nuts, coffee, roasted grain-based coffee substitutes, prune juice, breakfast cereals, crackers, some cookies, bread crusts, and toast.
    • Researchers discovered the presence of acrylamide in fried, roasted and other cooked foods in 2002. High temperatures during cooking convert sugars and other naturally occurring substances in these foods to acrylamide. 
  • Tobacco smoke contains acrylamide.
  • Acrylamide is used for industrial purposes. It has been used in grouts and cements. It is also used to produce polyacrylamide.

How does exposure to acrylamide occur?

  • During pregnancy, acrylamide can pass from the mother to the baby.

How can I reduce my exposure to acrylamide?

  • Do not smoke. Do not allow children to breathe tobacco smoke.
  • The US Department of Health and Human Services recommends:
    • Adopt a healthy, balanced eating plan that includes fruits and vegetables, lean meats, fish, high-fiber grains and beans.
    • Fry foods at 170 degrees Celsius (338 degrees Fahrenheit) or lower temperatures. [The higher the frying temperature, the more acrylamide is formed].
      • [If you do not have a “deep fry” thermometer, dip a wooden chopstick or wooden spoon handle into the oil. If the oil slowly starts to bubble and the bubbles are small, then the oil is hot enough for frying. If the oil bubbles rapidly, with large bubbles, then the oil is too hot.]
    • Cook potato strips, such as French fries, to a golden yellow rather than a golden brown color. [Longer cooking times result in greater formation of acrylamide.]
    • Toast bread to the lightest color acceptable.
    • Soak raw potato slices in water for 15-30 minutes before frying or roasting. Drain and blot dry before cooking. [Soaking in water removes some of the precursors to acrylamide formation.]
  • Do not store raw potatoes in the refrigerator. [Cold temperatures increase the sugar content of potatoes. Sugars are precursors to acrylamide formation.]

For more information:

General Acrylamide Fact Sheets and Resources:

Acrylamide in Food:

  • US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)
    National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS)
  • National Institute of Health, National Cancer Institute (NIH-NCI)
  • US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)

Proposition 65:

  • California Environmental Protection Agency (CalEPA)
    Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA)

Scientific Information on Acrylamide:

Posted September 2016

    Related Product or Place

  • Food

If you have any questions, comments, or concerns about the content of this page, please click here.

Sign-up for Email Updates

OEHHA is subject to the California Public Records Act and other laws that require the release of certain information upon request. If you sign up for a listserve, please be aware that your name and e-mail may be provided to third parties. By signing up you are waiving any right to privacy you may have in the information you provide.

Secretary of State - Register to Vote
CalFile - Free Online Tax Filing