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Author Topic: Health: Coffe, acrylamide, California, the FDA, and good science.  (Read 308 times)

Hariti

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Coffe, acrylamide, California, the FDA, and good science.
« on: October 21, 2018, 08:10:49 pm »
So, if you don't life in California, you may or may not know about Proposition 65, a California law that requires all carcinogens and potential carcinogens to be labeled on products. In theory, this is a good law that helps people make informed decisions when purchasing products.

I'm sure most USAians have seen "This produce is know to cause cancer or birth defects in the state of California" on various products before. Regardless of whether you take it seriously or roll your eyes, we all know about it.

Recently, against all standing scientific evidence, California has added Coffee to Prop 65. Now, the reason for this is the presence of acrylamide, a chemical that might not even be carcinogenic, and which is found in hundreds of foods. The catch is, the amount found in coffee is not harmful! The FDA, the WHO, and dozens of peer reviewed studies have shown that coffee consumption, even in large quantities, does not increase risk of any type of cancer, and actually reduces the risk of some types.

By sticking a warning on Coffee, California is actually causing people to reconsider, and possibly skip, a drink that actually reduces their chances of getting cancer. It's bad science, it's irresponsible, and it reminds me of all the drama surrounding parabens, or petroleum jelly; both products that were falsely accused of being cancer causing, and which still, decades later, have bad reputations despite repeated studies saying that they are safe.

Organizations that watch over people's health need to listen to scientists, not lobbyists or lawmakers. You wouldn't want a biologist interpreting the constitution, would you? So why do we let lawyers and judges interpret what is fundamentally scientific information?

I personally think that Prop 65 needs to go; it's just not well informed enough to help people, and in cases like this, actually does more harm than good. The FDA does have the authority, as a federal agency, to overrule any state laws regarding food safety and food labeling, and I think it should exercise that authority.

What do you all think? Do you know of other examples where products have been regulated based on shaky, disproven, or outright nonexistent evidence? I've heard that this happens a lot in the EU, but since I don't live there I don't want to weight in on it. I'd love to hear other people's imput!

I'm all for regulation and labeling (and think we need more of it!), but I think it should be factual, and should rely on scientific data rather than on scare tactics.
« Last Edit: May 07, 2019, 02:34:49 pm by RandallS »
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Ashmire

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Re: Coffe, acrylamide, California, the FDA, and good science.
« Reply #1 on: October 21, 2018, 08:18:58 pm »
So, if you don't life in California, you may or may not know about Proposition 65, a California law that requires all carcinogens and potential carcinogens to be labeled on products. In theory, this is a good law that helps people make informed decisions when purchasing products.

I'm sure most USAians have seen "This produce is know to cause cancer or birth defects in the state of California" on various products before. Regardless of whether you take it seriously or roll your eyes, we all know about it.

Recently, against all standing scientific evidence, California has added Coffee to Prop 65. Now, the reason for this is the presence of acrylamide, a chemical that might not even be carcinogenic, and which is found in hundreds of foods. The catch is, the amount found in coffee is not harmful! The FDA, the WHO, and dozens of peer reviewed studies have shown that coffee consumption, even in large quantities, does not increase risk of any type of cancer, and actually reduces the risk of some types.

By sticking a warning on Coffee, California is actually causing people to reconsider, and possibly skip, a drink that actually reduces their chances of getting cancer.

What do you all think? Do you know of other examples where products have been regulated based on shaky, disproven, or outright nonexistent evidence? I've heard that this happens a lot in the EU, but since I don't live there I don't want to weight in on it. I'd love to hear other people's imput!

I'm all for regulation and labeling (and think we need more of it!), but I think it should be factual, and should rely on scientific data rather than on scare tactics.

I remember my diabetic mother and grandmother being upset about this one when I was very little: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sodium_cyclamate

PerditaPickle

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Re: Coffe, acrylamide, California, the FDA, and good science.
« Reply #2 on: October 22, 2018, 03:19:28 pm »
What do you all think? Do you know of other examples where products have been regulated based on shaky, disproven, or outright nonexistent evidence?

I won't say it was regulated (because I don't think it was), but I was recently reading about how MSG was taken out of a lot of foodstuffs (beginning with baby foods, and snowballing from there) because there was a public perception that it was bad for you and caused bad reactions in some people.  I just finished reading the Bad Food Bible, and there's a chapter devoted to MSG among other things.  According to this book, and it seemed very extensively and well researched, there was no strong evidence that MSG was harmful for humans - even for people who thought they were allergic to it, it seems!

I also recently overheard some people at work maligning MSG and stating that they had to cut it out of their diets because it was causing them so much harm!  Now, I'm a great believer in the placebo effect and in psychosomatic symptoms so I guess if a person believes something's doing them harm then perhaps eliminating it from their diet/reducing consumption is the best thing for them.  So each to their own.

But MSG is apparently a really good example of umami, the fifth taste type, and it sounds as though it's the one which makes a food 'more-ish', as we say over here (do you guys have that phrase State- & Canada-side?)  So personally I plan to keep eating it.

There's also a chapter of the Bad Food Bible on coffee, and as you say it dispelled the myth that coffee is bad for you.

Alas the book was on loan to me and I've since given it back to the owner, so the knowledge is already fading from my brain.  But I can certainly believe this happens.
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PerditaPickle

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Re: Coffe, acrylamide, California, the FDA, and good science.
« Reply #3 on: October 22, 2018, 03:36:39 pm »
I remember my diabetic mother and grandmother being upset about this one when I was very little: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sodium_cyclamate

Alright, full disclosure, I've not properly read the entire Wikipedia article you linked to, because I was just planning to glance at it, but this line here:

"The released study was showing that eight out of 240 rats fed a mixture of saccharin and cyclamates, at levels of humans ingesting 550 cans of diet soda per day, developed bladder tumors."

...is exactly the sort of thing the author of the Bad Food Bible is referring to.  Eight out of 240 rats at levels of humans ingesting 550 cans of diet soda per day!  Also, apparently rats are susceptible to bladder cancer already, anyway!

The MSG thing I was referring to upthread apparently saw 5 grams of MSG being injected under the skin of mice, when the average American apparently consumes less than half that a day (I think it was quite a lot less, something like .5 of a gram, but as mentioned my memory for knowledge is dreadful so don't quote me.)

[Edit to italicise and underline book title]
"Everything's made up of elements, right? Earth, Water, Air, Fire and... sunnink. Well-known fact. Everything's got 'em all mixed up just right."
Character Nobby Nobbs in the late, great Sir Terry Pratchett's Discworld novel The Truth

Sefiru

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Re: Coffe, acrylamide, California, the FDA, and good science.
« Reply #4 on: October 22, 2018, 06:27:57 pm »
The MSG thing I was referring to upthread apparently saw 5 grams of MSG being injected under the skin of mice, when the average American apparently consumes less than half that a day (I think it was quite a lot less, something like .5 of a gram, but as mentioned my memory for knowledge is dreadful so don't quote me.)

5 grams sounded like a lot, compared to a mouse's size, so I checked: a house mouse weighs about 20 grams. I'm pretty sure *any* substance would harm you if 1/5 of your weight in it was shoved under your skin.

Ashmire

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Re: Coffe, acrylamide, California, the FDA, and good science.
« Reply #5 on: October 22, 2018, 08:19:57 pm »
"The released study was showing that eight out of 240 rats fed a mixture of saccharin and cyclamates, at levels of humans ingesting 550 cans of diet soda per day, developed bladder tumors."

...is exactly the sort of thing the author of the Bad Food Bible is referring to.  Eight out of 240 rats at levels of humans ingesting 550 cans of diet soda per day!  Also, apparently rats are susceptible to bladder cancer already, anyway!

Exactly.  I just did the math on that, and it works out to a bit over 50 *gallons* of soda a day.  I'm aware of several recorded cases of death from drinking substantially less than that of plain water.

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