Dark brown sugar shown to con­tain car­cino­gens: re­port


Dark brown sugar, of­ten seen by many as a health­ier al­ter­na­tive to other sweet­en­ers, has been shown to have a known toxin, ac­cord­ing to a lo­cal mag­a­zine’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion. Com­mon Health Mag­a­zine (

) an­nounced yesterday that all 19 sam­ples of dark brown sugar that it tested from the mar­ket con­tained acryl­amide ( ), a chem­i­cal said to cause can­cer in an­i­mals.

The re­port shows that of the 19 sam­ples taken from brown sugar ob­tained from whole­sale stores, su­per­mar­kets, or­ganic food stores and farmer’s mar­kets, all con­tain acryl­amide be­tween 30 to 2740 parts per bil­lion (mcg/kg), with over one third of the sam­ples higher than 1,000 ppb.

Wu Kuen-yuh ( ), pro­fes­sor at the Na­tional Tai­wan Univer­sity Col­lege of Public Health, said that acryl­amide is def­i­nitely a cause of can­cer in lab­o­ra­tory an­i­mals, and although it has not been de­ter­mined whether it is a car­cino­gen in hu­mans, it can pro­duce neu­ro­tox­ins and dam­age to hu­man genes. Wu said that peo­ple should be cau­tious, while busi­nesses should try to re­duce the amount of acryl­amide dur­ing pro­duc­tion.

The mag­a­zine pointed out that ac­cord­ing to in­ter­na­tional data, over 2.6 mil­ligrams of acryl­amide ab­sorbed per kilo­gram of body weight ev­ery­day causes an in­creased car­cino­genic risk, while daily ex­po­sure to over 0.5 mil­ligrams per kilo­gram of body weight ev­ery­day will pro­duce neu­ro­tox­ins. Over 2 mil­ligrams will cause re­pro­duc­tive tox­i­c­ity.

Chen Jun-cheng( ), a food science in­struc­tor at Chi­nese Cul­ture Univer­sity( ), stated that no­table amounts of acryl­amide are pro­duced when starch reaches 85 de­grees Cel­sius.

As­paragine ( ) and monosac­cha­ride will re­act and pro­duce acryl­amide af­ter heated, Chen said, and if busi­nesses do not try to re­duce the quan­tity of acryl­amide, the high tem­per­a­ture of sugar pro­duc­tion makes it in­evitable for a large amount of the chem­i­cal to be de­tected.

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