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ConsumerLab.com Answers

Acrylamide in Coffee, Cocoa and Foods

Question:
What is acrylamide? Is it true that coffee and cocoa contain this toxin?

Answer:
Acrylamide is a neurotoxin and probable carcinogen (cancer causing agent) formed when certain starchy foods, such as wheat and potatoes, are cooked at high temperatures (>248 degrees Fahrenheit).

It can also be produced when coffee and cocoa beans and buckwheat (kasha) are roasted. It is also found in surprisingly high amounts in prune juice and some types of canned olives.

Although no level of exposure is absolutely safe, amounts of acrylamide consumed by most adults is believed to represent a very low level of risk. Nevertheless, there are steps you can take to reduce your exposure. Get the details in the full answer >> 

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Cristine16711   April 11, 2018
Does it make any difference if the coffee is organically grown?

ConsumerLab.com   April 19, 2018
Hi Cristine - There do not appear to be studies on acrylamide in regular versus organic coffee; however, as acrylamide is formed during roasting as a product of sugars and amino acids that naturally occur in coffee beans, it's likely organic coffee would contain similar amounts.

Robert16669   April 4, 2018
The scientific findings linking low or even medium doses of acrylamide to cancer are few and largely limited to non-human studies, only some of which suggest direct causality. In contrast, we see a growing body of diverse types and sources of evidence that coffee consumption – acrylamide and all – reduces the risk of certain cancers, type 2 diabetes, coronary artery disease, and other illnesses, largely in a dose-dependent fashion. I am not suggesting that coffee is an unqualified good or that its net positive and negative impact does not vary across individuals with different genetic and environmental backgrounds. On the other hand, California's position on coffee needs to be analyzed in terms of the sociology of the use of scientific findings, where you will see many cases of bad judgment, this one included.

Jimmy16667   April 4, 2018
Regarding prop 65 I have found that "more stringent" than federal standards is an understatement. For example prop 65's limit for lead is 1000 times lower than federal. One thousand!

That's why there's a long drawn out court battle by an activist group over all the specific chocolate bars that even Consumer Labs had listed as passing the contamination test. So in addition to all coffee, every dark chocolate product no matter how practically safe, would have a prop 65 warning on it.

It is getting ridiculous because I see it on non-consumables as well, like shelving and any commercial place for whatever reason (I don't mean factories spewing fumes either, just shopping places, apartments, etc)

Al15769   October 18, 2017
Although I never touch them, my wife eats a lot of potato chips. I've never seen a warning on any potato chip bag although we live in California. There's hysterical warnings about everything else, including the propane we need for cooking, so how have potato chip manufacturers managed to escape the warning mandate? I also never touch fast food, but wonder if anyone has ever been asked, "Would you like a warning with your fries?"

ConsumerLab.com   October 4, 2017
If it is "cocoa," that means it has been roasted, so it likely will contain some amount of acrylamide. Also, raw does not mean it has not been treated in some way. See the full answer for details.

judith15636   October 4, 2017
Raw cocoa would not contain acrylamide as it has not been heated correct?

Mary15631   October 4, 2017
Another source of acrylamde is prunes and prune juice. It's a little scary how much they contain, particularly if you're as fond of them as I am!

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3118507/

Anne15705   October 18, 2017
According to the information above, a sine organic prune would contain less than 2mcg. As 7 prunes contain 10mcg. That is not a lot per prune. And who could eat 7 per day?

Mark16719   April 14, 2018
If prunes have significant amounts of acrylimide, does anyone know how raisins, currants, figs, and dates compare? They are all sugary foods that are dried as well. I would imagine the drying processes that are used vary considerably in temperature and time.

Alan15627   October 4, 2017
How much of this is present in Raw Cacao nibs?

ConsumerLab.com   October 4, 2017
As explained in the answer above, the concentration of acrylamide in cacao nibs is likely to be lower than in dark chocolates and most cocoas.

Natalie15624   October 2, 2017
I buy cocoa 'nibs' (cacao) Most of the brands out there claim to be 'raw', which means they haven't been processed at high temperatures. I would assume that these would be fairly low in acrylamide?

ConsumerLab.com   October 16, 2017
Hi Natalie - We've added information about cocoa nibs in the Answer above.

Heather15621   October 2, 2017
Why/how is acrylamide present in roasted nuts?

ConsumerLab.com   October 16, 2017
Hi Heather - High heat during roasting can produce acrylamide in nuts just as it does in coffee beans, cocoa beans, and other foods.

judith15619   October 1, 2017
I think it would be worth mentioning that you can get chocolate made from raw cocoa and that would not contain acrylamide. Can consumer lab comment on this?

ConsumerLab.com   October 16, 2017
Hi Judith - We've added information about this in Answer above.

This CL Answer initially posted on 10/1/2017. Last updated 4/10/2018.

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