Cancer-in-a-Can? The horrific true story of how Pringles are made


by Dr. Mercola –

To understand the nature of Pringles and other stackable chips, forget the notion that they come from actual potatoes in any recognizable way.

The Pringles Company (in an effort to avoid taxes levied against “luxury foods” like chips in the UK) once even argued that the potato content of their chips was so low that they are technically not even potato chips.

So if they’re not made of potatoes, what are they exactly?

The process begins with a slurry of rice, wheat, corn, and potato flakes that are pressed into shape.his dough-like substance is then rolled out into an ultra-thin sheet cut into chip-cookies by a machine.

According to io9:

“The chips move forward on a conveyor belt until they’re pressed onto molds, which give them the curve that makes them fit into one another.

 Those molds move through boiling oil … Then they’re blown dry, sprayed with powdered flavors, and at last, flipped onto a slower-moving conveyor belt in a way that allows them to stack.

From then on, it’s into the cans … and off towards the innocent mouths of the consumers.”

I suspect nearly everyone reading this likely enjoys the taste of potato chips. However, they are clearly one of the most toxic processed foods you can eat—whether they’re made from actual potato shavings or not.

Potato Chips are Loaded with Cancer-Causing Chemicals

One of the most hazardous ingredients in potato chips is not intentionally added, but rather is a byproduct of the processing.

Acrylamide, a cancer-causing and potentially neurotoxic chemical, is created when carbohydrate-rich foods are cooked at high temperatures, whether baked, fried, roasted or toasted. Some of the worst offenders include potato chips and French fries, but many foods cooked or processed at temperatures above 212°F (100°C) may contain acrylamide. As a general rule, the chemical is formed when food is heated enough to produce a fairly dry and brown/yellow surface. Hence, it can be found in:

– Potatoes: chips, French fries and other roasted or fried potato foods

– Grains: bread crust, toast, crisp bread, roasted breakfast cereals and various processed snacks

– Coffee; roasted coffee beans and ground coffee powder. Surprisingly, coffee substitutes based on chicory actually contains 2-3 times MORE acrylamide than real coffee

How Much Acrylamide are You Consuming?
The federal limit for acrylamide in drinking water is 0.5 parts per billion, or about 0.12 micrograms in an eight-ounce glass of water. However, a six-ounce serving of French fries can contain 60 micrograms of acrylamide, or about FIVE HUNDRED times over the allowable limit.

Similarly, potato chips are notoriously high in this dangerous chemical. So high, in fact, that in 2005 the state of California actually sued potato chip makers for failing to warn California consumers about the health risks of acrylamide in their products. A settlement was reached in 2008 when Frito-Lay and several other potato chip makers agreed to reduce the acrylamide levels in their chips to 275 parts per billion (ppb) by 2011, which is low enough to avoid needing a cancer warning label.

The 2005 report “How Potato Chips Stack Up: Levels of Cancer-Causing Acrylamide in Popular Brands of Potato Chips,” issued by the California-based Environmental Law Foundation (ELF), spelled out the dangers of this popular snack. Their analysis found that all potato chip products tested exceeded the legal limit of acrylamide by a minimum of 39 times, and as much as 910 times! Some of the worst offenders at that time included:

– Cape Cod Robust Russet: 910 times the legal limit of acrylamide

– Kettle Chips (lightly salted): 505 times

– Kettle Chips (honey dijon): 495 times

Beware: Baked Chips May Be WORSE than Fried!

If you think you can avoid the health risks of potato chips by choosing baked varieties, which are typically advertised as being “healthier,” think again. Remember that acrylamide is formed not only when foods are fried or broiled, but also when they are baked. And according to U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) data on acrylamide levels in foods, baked chips may contain more than three times the level of acrylamide as regular chips!

Interestingly, the same trend holds true for other foods, too, which suggests that baking processed potatoes at high temperature may be one of the worst ways to cook them. For instance, according to the FDA’s data, Ore Ida Golden Fries contained 107 ppb of acrylamide in the regular fried version and 1,098 when baked. So remember, ALL potato chips contain acrylamide, regardless of whether they are natural or not; baked or fried. Likewise, they will ALL influence your insulin levels in a very negative way.

Acrylamide is Not the Only Danger

Acrylamide is not the only dangerous genotoxic compound formed when food is heated to high temperatures.

A three-year long EU project, known as Heat-Generated Food Toxicants (HEATOX), whose findings were published at the end of 2007, found there are more than 800 heat-induced compounds, of which 52 are potential carcinogens. In addition to their finding that acrylamide does pose a public health threat, the HEATOX scientists also discovered that you’re far less likely to ingest dangerous levels of the toxin when you eat home-cooked foods compared to industrially or restaurant-prepared foods.

Additionally, the HEATOX findings also suggest that although there are ways to decrease exposure to acrylamide, it cannot be eliminated completely.

According to their calculations, successful application of all presently known methods would reduce the acrylamide intake by 40 percent at the most—which makes me wonder whether chip manufacturers have really succeeded at this point in reducing acrylamide levels to within legal limits… There’s no updated data as of yet, so there’s no telling whether they’ve been able to comply with the 2005 settlement.

For more in-depth information about acrylamide, I recommend reading the online report Heat-generated Food Toxicants, Identification, Characterization and Risk Minimization. In general however, just remember that cooking food at high temperatures is ill advised. A few of the most well-known toxins created in high-temperature cooking include:

– Heterocyclic Amines (HCAs): These form when meat is cooked at high temperatures, and they’re also linked to cancer. In terms of HCA, the worst part of the meat is the blackened section, which is why you should always avoid charring your meat, and never eat blackened sections.

– Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs): When fat drips onto the heat source, causing excess smoke, and the smoke surrounds your food, it can transfer cancer-causing PAHs to the meat.

– Advanced Glycation End Products (AGEs): When food is cooked at high temperatures (including when it is pasteurized or sterilized), it increases the formation of AGEs in your food. When you eat the food, it transfers the AGEs into your body. AGEs build up in your body over time leading to oxidative stress, inflammation and an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes and kidney disease.

The Search for a “Healthful” Chip Continues…

Like a modern-day search for the Holy Grail, chip manufacturers keep searching for methods to improve the image of their health-harming but profitable snacks. For example, by the end of 2011, about half of Pepsi’s Frito-Lay brand snacks will be reformulated with all-natural ingredients. The switch is part of PepsiCo’s master plan to tap into the healthy foods market share. The Wall Street Journal recently reported the company hopes to boost their nutrition business from $10 billion to $30 billion by 2020.

The company will remove dietary hazards like monosodium glutamate (MSG), replacing it with natural seasonings, such as molasses and paprika. Artificial colors will be replaced with beet juice, purple cabbage and carrots. All in all, about different 60 snacks are scheduled to get an all-natural makeover.

This is certainly a good example of how consumer demand can alter the direction of food manufacturers in a positive way.

The reformulated chips may end up being less bad for you than the original formulations. However, chips will never be truly healthful. All-natural chips may be the lesser of two evils, but if consumed regularly, they will still push your health in the wrong direction… There’s no getting away from the fact that modern plagues such as cancer, heart disease, obesity, and diabetes have a dietary component, and potato chips and French fries will always be a losing bet if you want to avoid becoming another disease statistic.

How to Avoid Heat-Induced Toxins in Your Diet

Ideally, you should consume foods that are raw or minimally processed to avoid these types of toxic byproducts—the more raw food, the better. My nutrition plan emphasizes the need for at least one-third of your foods to be consumed raw. Personally, I consume about 80 percent of my food raw, and I find it is one of the most important factors that help keep me healthy.

It may take you awhile to switch over to a less processed diet, but throwing out the most obvious culprits would be a great start.

These would include:

– French fries and potato chips

– All sodas (both regular and diet, as artificial sweeteners may be more problematic than fructose)

– Doughnuts

Healthy Eating Made Easy

Aside from creating potentially toxic byproducts, cooking and processing also depletes the food of valuable micronutrients, which is another reason for eating as much raw food as possible. This includes protein sources such as eggs. Raw whole eggs from organic, pastured chickens are an incredible source of high-quality nutrients that many are deficient in. Raw milk is another good example of a food that is beneficial in its raw state but becomes harmful after it is pasteurized.

By opting for foods that will benefit your health, such as raw, preferably organic and/or locally-grown vegetables, organic grass-fed meats, healthy oils, raw dairy, nuts and seeds, you can change your health for the better. These are the foods that are truly natural, and quite easy to prepare once you get the hang of it.

For a step-by-step guide to make the transition to a healthier diet as simple and smooth as possible, simply follow the advice in my optimized nutrition plan.

Remember, eating fresh whole foods is the “secret” to getting healthier, losing weight and really enjoying your food. It’s unfortunate that so many are under the mistaken belief that it’s “next to impossible” to create a meal without processed foods. Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough tackle this issue head-on in their book Real Food Has Curves, which is a great starting point to “relearn” the basics of how to enjoy and prepare real food.

Once you get used to it, you’ll find you can whip up a healthful meal from scratch in the same amount of time it would have taken you to drive down the street to pick up fast food. The main difference will be greater satisfaction, both physically and mentally, and perhaps even financially, as processed foods typically end up being more expensive than cooking from scratch.

438 Comments on Cancer-in-a-Can? The horrific true story of how Pringles are made

  1. TOXIC , TOXIC , By “toxic,” I mean chemicals or highly processed ingredients that aren’t good for you or can cause harm to your health. I’m talking about refined grains, trans fats, high fructose corn syrup, and all the other artificial junk you can’t even pronounce on the ingredient lists.

  2. If you were to try to live on Pringles, this might be of some concern. But frankly, most people have somewhat limited intake of these compared to other big offenders (e.g., french fries). Still, it makes a good story to draw people to their website for the occasional scary story. The real message behind this story is that processed foods are subject to regulation and the processors do respond to rules. On the other hand, you can whip-up uncontrolled quantities of the same dangerous substances on the top of your stove from completely natural and even “organic” ingredients. All that is needed is a little heat. Should we eat raw foods? The dangers associated with that are another story for the website. Remember, heat renders all kinds of dangerous things harmless before eating.

  3. For once I’d like to see a story about something I can eat! It’s not like cigarettes or drugs, which a person can quit cold turkey. I still have to eat something. I know, fruits and vegetables, but I’ve seen stories on some of them that shouldn’t be eaten.

  4. são uma tentação quando começas a comer estas batatas, mas são cancerígenas pela forma de produzir e estocar. Como tudo que é industrializado, precisam de CONSERVANTES e estes produtos não são indicados ao consumo, só ao LUCRO.

  5. Until everyone starts reading CAREFULLY the contents of everything that we put in our mouths and worse, the mouths of our children, then we aren’t letting the big companies who try to make us buy this rubbish, know what we want and they will continue to get away with it. Being informed and voting with our choice NOT to buy is all we can do. If sales drop, they might reconsider.

  6. this is becoming horrific! People need to stand up and stop this unbelievable greed, intentionally killing people with food that is allowed to be eaten, that never should! Crazy…

  7. Pringles are awesome! I hate these types of articles written by some agenda driven organisation designed to induce paranoia in the consumer. Like everything, eat in moderation and you’ll be fine, there’s nothing wrong with treating yourself to a yummy treat like Pringles from time to time.

  8. Bad but not horrific. Horrific is a strong word. So, sounds like heat on any carbo laden starch produces this chemical? Its not like they are purpously adding it to kill people. THAT would be horrific. The story talks of a byproduct. Just eat sensibly.

  9. Its amazing that when you read this article on a “holistic” page, that there’s an ad for GMO laden Cheerios right beside the story! Sooooo very disappointing. Makes me question all of your information.

  10. So its not just Pringles brand, its anything thats fried. Sounds like your trying to put a scare into the public. I think i will be blocking your page for this reason. State facts don’t point fingers at a specific company or brand. I’ve lost trust in you.

  11. oh damn… and i can’t eat lays anymore either… or mcdonalds ff… i just had a cheeseburger for lunch today and i’m certain there was “something” about the meat that did not set right w/me. i don’t eat crap food all the time. it’s like icecream. we KNOW IT’S BAD FOR US, OK?!!!! but sometimes…. 😉 i wish they would leave us something we could cheat on once in a while 😉

  12. Profits over People. Monsanto makes the chemicals that poison the ground and water, makes the chemicals that poison all living orgasms it contacts, makes the chemicals that go in our food, drink, and nearly every product we use to clean our things and ourselves, nearly everything we come in contact with has been “enhanced” “Improved” etc. by Monsanto chemicals. Monsanto makes the chemicals the pharmaceutical companies use to “treat” the illnesses their other chemicals have caused. They don’t care if people die and suffer because of their actions. After all they are legally obligated to return the most profits they can to their shareholders. They are not obligated or mandated to do it legally, morally, ethically, compassionately, or in the best interests of the planet, the inhabitants of the planet, or anything else – they are required by Federal Law with effecting the greatest return to their shareholders. We’ve been sold out. Let’s not let them evict us. Funny thing is that pesky 1% pretty much owns, thru shares, all of the above mentioned corporations. Led by the Koch Brothers we are being drugged to be apathetic to all of the evils that are revealed daily – committed by that same 1%. It’s time to hit the streets – NOW
    November 2, 2014 – March against Corruption let them see the number of outraged citizens.

  13. Jesus christ, stop writing your topics/text like touching Pringles immediately will kill you. Most (smart) people will be able to choose for themselves, if you just provide them with the options. I don’t eat them, I don’t like them – but I will unlike your page if you don’t get your shit together. This is not the mainstream media, stop acting like it.

  14. Did i read this wrong? Because only thing i read was its got rice wheat and corn which i don’t mind too terribly much would prefer potatoes but whatever. It also has this scary thing called Acrylamide which is in a ton of foods some without having to cook o and its in coffee lots of it in coffee.

  15. the power of the MONEY>>> that is what we have.. stop buying. it will go away.. or maybe.. just maybe they will make them real!! nah.. they will just go away.. so please stop buying them!!

  16. Sadly this is the norm for the food sold in our grocery stores in America!! The food industry is not interested in selling healthy food but in selling fake food that they can make a big profit on over our dead bodies 🙂 Thank God we are getting educated and we still have a choice.

  17. I just don’t eat processed foods. Flour, bi-carb and some rapadura sugar are the most processed things in my house. Raw milk all the way >>>
    “– Advanced Glycation End Products (AGEs): When food is cooked at high temperatures (including when it is pasteurized or sterilized), it increases the formation of AGEs in your food. When you eat the food, it transfers the AGEs into your body. AGEs build up in your body over time leading to oxidative stress, inflammation and an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes and kidney disease. “

  18. Good article, but there is such a thing as organic potato chips and fries, with no fake preservatives. Not to mention you can make your own. I don’t really like perpetuating the myth that by eating healthy, you’re giving something up. Chips are awesome, they deserve to be made awesome.

  19. Not surprising!!!, everything that is pre-packed like chips and cookies is not good for you…Foods that can go Bad a such as a salads, veggies are good for you….. But foods that cant go bad, like Chef Boyardee and junk like that arent any good for our bodies!

  20. One episode of “HOW IT IS MADE” had this on… and yes they said it was not just potatoes, it was a “company secret” I can not even remember when I saw it, on re-runs… several years.

  21. Scare mongering at it’s best! I appreciate that Pringles are processed crap, but; to continue on in the article saying that ANY baked or fried product from potato is dangerous because of this chemical reaction is ridiculous. I eat organic, to try to go further than that would be to induce starvation in my family, there has to a line; this has crossed it.

  22. The food industry is full of nasty secrets ! They only care about their PROFIT level . If you want to be healthy cook at home where YOU control the quality . Watch the documentary” Fast Food Nation ” ! That will get you cooking !!! Read up on GMO products …. So bad !!!

  23. Max, organic food is not overpriced. The poisonous food is just usually cheap. It obviously takes more effort to grow organic fruits and vegetables, and products like bread, cookies,… have high-quality ingredients when they’re organic! The ingredients are of such a high quality those products cost more to produce. Also, organic farms have different (better!) methods and are usually local. =Better for the economy. Did you know red or pink yogurt drinks etc usually contain crushed insects (carmine) and lots of products (like candy bars) contain offal & all kinds of gross things? They’ve got numbers though on the packaging, so you don’t know what these additives really are unless you look them up. You won’t find these things in organic food; it’s so much safer, healthier and tastier. And remember this: getting sick is the most expensive thing in the world… :-/ If you can prevent that by paying a little bit more, why wouldn’t you. You can find organic food everywhere these days, it’s not that expensive anymore. Oh and btw: I don’t agree with the term “organic”. I think all other foods should be labeled as “poisonous” instead. Organic is the food as it is and should be, poisonous is that same food + all kinds of nasty chemicals.

  24. why post the same stories over and over? that is not the definition of news. surely there are other things to discuss.
    Pringles are bad, we get it.
    we are still cooking our food; get over it.

  25. It’s not just Pringles that are bad for you, all processed foods are. The best way to go is to buy organic food. It’s not only a way to avoid pesticides, but the quality of the ingredients is so much better as well! The difference is huge, and everything tastes way much too.

  26. what you are doing is just like me trying to tell my son something is gonna hurt him if he keeps doing it. But until people get concerned about their own health, you are talking to deaf ears. I applaude the fact that you are taking your health in your own hands, but you will find yourself beating your head against a wall if you expect everyone else to follow your lead. But I enjoyed the read. doesnt surprise me that the junk we are being sold, and is approved by the FDA is killing us. Keep up the good work, your body thanks you!!!

  27. DAVID POGUE: All animals eat. Some would like to eat us.

    STEPHEN SECOR (University of Alabama): You need to back up.

    DAVID POGUE: But why are humans the only animals that cook?

    I’m David Pogue, and on this episode of NOVA ScienceNOW, I’m on a mission to find out, “Why is cooking so important?”

    So amazing!

    You eat every day, but do you have any idea what really goes on inside your oven? How does this disgusting carcass become the most delectable meal of the year?

    Mon dieu! I have discovered browning!

    I’ll be diving deep inside my dinner…

    BARB STUCKEY (Mattson): Most of flavor comes through your nose.

    DAVID POGUE: Freaking me out!

    …and deep inside the mind to unlock the mysteries behind the foods we crave.

    LINDA BARTOSHUK (Smell and Taste Center, University of Florida): The taste system solves problems that, if you don’t solve them immediately, you die.

    DAVID POGUE: Is it possible that cooking, in fact, made us who we are?

    RICHARD WRANGHAM (Harvard University): Cooking has enabled us to dominate the earth.

  28. look…the most important thing for the US food supply right now is fighting for GMO labeling, increasing awareness, & fighting Monsanto, Syngenta, DuPont, Bayer, & all the other companies growing Frankencrops and lacing our food, vitamins, supplements, & medicines with their Frankencrap.
    we’re in much more danger of getting cancer from eating GMOs than from eating cooked food. in fact, reading this post made me want some french fries…i make them myself with organic potatoes, non-GMO expeller-pressed canola oil, and sea salt, and eat them with organic ketchup.
    you’re nuts if you think all human beings will ever become raw foodists. do YOU. you wanna be a vegan & eat raw food? great! besides, there are evolutionary reasons that humans are the only species to cook their food, and meat is not bad–it is the factory farming processing that poisons it. DEATH TO MONSANTO.

  29. I’m beginning to think I need a colonoscopy after my regular indulgence in potato chips! And I thought all I had to worry about was the salt and trans fats. I knew they weren’t great for me, now I’m down right scared!

  30. If I even have a couple of Pringles chips, I get sick to my stomach. Every. Time. I haven’t been able to eat them for a few years now. Since then, I’ve found out how BAD they really are, and I’m glad that I haven’t been “able” to eat them!

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