Is That Acrylamide in Your Coffee?

Drinking coffee has been shown to improve your brain function, metabolic rate, exercise performance and even your longevity.  It may also reduce your risk of dementia, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and type 2 diabetes.  (Healthline)

Nevertheless, a state judge has recently ruled that coffee sold in California must now provide cancer warnings.

It turns out coffee contains acrylamide, a chemical that is suspected to increase cancer risk.  Acrylamide is formed when coffee beans are roasted, so there is no way to remove the chemical from the beverage.

California’s Proposition 65 requires warning labels for any chemicals associated with cancer or birth defects.  The problem is that we are exposed to acrylamide on a regular basis – the chemical is present in foods ranging from potato chips to breakfast cereals.  According to AMI Newswire:

Superior Court Judge Elihu Berle did not find that coffee causes cancer. Instead, he ruled that coffee companies had “failed to meet their burden of proof… of ‘no significant risk level.’”

In other words, the judge asked the defendants to prove a negative: that coffee doesn’t cause cancer.  This feat is impossible based on the fact that nature is full of organic carcinogens.

(Another problem is that warning labels have become so prevalent, we don’t even pay attention to them anymore.  But that’s a different story.)

Researchers at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration have developed a specific method for determining acrylamide in foods using LC/MS-MS.  Equipment includes an Agilent HPLC and binary pump.

Using this method, the researchers measured acrylamide levels in coffee that ranged from 45 to 374 nanograms (billionths of a gram) per gram in unbrewed coffee grounds, from 172 to 539 ng/g in instant coffee crystals, and from 6 to 16 ng per milliliter in brewed coffee.

Agilent has also published an application note for the analysis of acrylamide in chocolate, chips, waffles, coffee and cacao powder using GC/MS.

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