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Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Enzyme cuts out possible Carcinogen in Baked Goods

Acrylamide is a probable carcinogen found in almost all baked or fried goods (i.e. donuts, bread, cakes). It "is produced by the Maillard reaction — the chemical process by which carbohydrates transform, under heat, to golden-brown deliciousness." You've probably never heard about it before, but it's been known to exist for several years now.

What to do? Thomas Amrein, a Swiss food chemist, has found that adding asparaginase, an enzyme that degrades the amino acid asparagine (so-called because it was first isolated out of asparagus juice), will reduce the amount of acrylamide produced by 80%. Why? Because asparagine is a precursor to acrylamide. Without it, acrylamide can't be formed. There is a catch though since asparaginase hasn't been approved for food use and is otherwise used as an anticancer medication, which causes joint pain and allergic reactions. However, asparaginase is likely to be deactivated by the baking process so it shouldn't have any effects after you eat it.

Hopefully, the FDA quickly approves this enzyme for use since acrylamide is a silent killer that nearly everyone ingests everyday (except for those still clinging to the Atkins diet, which forbids all carbohydrates).


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