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Tue Apr 23, 5:32 PM ET
STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Scientists in Sweden have found high levels
of a substance believed to cause cancer in staple foods eaten
by millions of people around the world, such as bread, rice and
potatoes, Swedish media reported on Tuesday.
Research carried out by scientists at Stockholm
University's department of environmental chemistry showed starch,
a carbohydrate found in cereals and potatoes, transforms into
acrylamide when heated up, the daily newspaper Expressen reported
on its Internet Web site. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
(news - web sites) classifies acrylamide, a colorless, crystalline
solid, as a medium hazard probable human carcinogen.
Detailed findings of the Stockholm University pilot
study would be made public at a news conference on Wednesday called
by Sweden's National Food Administration.
According to the International Agency for Research
on Cancer, acrylamide induces gene mutations and has been found
in animal tests to cause benign and malignant stomach tumors.
It is also known to cause damage to the central
and peripheral nervous system. Swedish TV4 television news said
the researchers who made the discovery (news - web sites) spoke
of "enormous global consequences for food production and
Expressen quoted Eva Buren, a spokeswoman at leading
Swedish supermarket chain ICA, as saying representatives of the
company and other big food stores attended a "crisis meeting"
on Tuesday at which a list of products which might contain the
carcinogen were reviewed.
Buren said Sweden's National Food Administration,
whose representatives also attended the meeting, had not decided
to remove any products from shelves, the paper said.