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Crisps 'cancer alert' fear

[Leicester Mercury story, July 3, 2002]

A top Leicester scientist today said that more research into crisps and chips should be a worldwide priority, after they were found to contain a cancer-causing substance.

Peter Farmer, who is advising the Government on the latest food scare, says that test results so far are a "worry," and that eating a balanced diet is now more important than ever.

However, he dismissed recent reports claiming chips and crisps pose a bigger risk than tobacco.

Professor Farmer, an Honorary Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry at University of Leicester, has just returned from a World Health Organisation conference in Geneva.

Scientists worldwide met after acrylamide, shown to cause cancer in animals, was found in a range of baked and fried foods.

In chips and crisps, the level of acrylamide is especially high - up to 350 times the recommended safe level.

"The discovery of a carcinogen in food has to be a major concern," said Prof Farmer, chairman of the Food Standards Agency's committee on the mutation of cells.

"Scientists around the world are rightly viewing further research as a priority."

In the light of the findings, several eminent scientists publicly said they have told their families to stop eating crisps and chips.

Professor Farmer said: "I will not be telling anyone to change their diets. If anyone eats a lot of junk food then that is a worry anyway because of the fat."

Mother-of-two Emma Connolly, 28, of Knighton, said: "I generally ignore these food scares, but this one has genuinely worried me.

"I would never have dreamt that such everyday foods could one day lead to the most awful thing a parent can imagine.

"Kids always reach for crisps and chips if given the option, and I think a lot of mums will be rethinking their menus."

GP Guru Singh said: "If you followed all food scares then you wouldn't be able to eat anything. Our advice to everyone is to eat as much fresh food as possible and avoid junk food. Apart from new worries, that advice is essential to avoid heart disease and diabetes."

Tim Hall
July 2002

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Last updated: 12 July 2002 10:55
Created by: Rachel Tunstall

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