Food safety experts are meeting in Geneva this week under the auspices of the WTO to discuss recent scientific findings in Europe regarding certain foods and acrylamide - a potentially cancer-causing chemical. Meanwhile, across the Atlantic, Dr Rhona Applebaum, from the US National Food Processors Association (NFPA), made the following warning:
"These findings were based on an analytical method that has yet to be validated and that is still in the developmental process, according to the US Food and Drug Administration."
She continued: "A variety of scientific organisations are now examining available information related to acrylamide in foods, and are in the process of determining scientifically whether or not acrylamide in food has any implications for human health.
We urge all those involved in this process to let science lead the way, to neither pre-empt the scientific process nor jump to conclusions unsupported by fact, and to resist the temptation to use this issue to advance political or activist agendas.
Consumers need factual information on diet and health, not advice based on clearly limited information."
Calls for calm, despite the clearly biased source, are welcome as newspaper headlines across the world scream panic-inducing words. We must wait for science to provide the answers. The WHO consultation on acrylamide in foods is closed to the public and media but the outcome of the meeting is due to be elucidated on Thursday 27 June.