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.