A Cancer on Us All


Warning: Just about everything contains at least minuscule amounts of some carcinogen. California's Proposition 65 requires warning labels on products that contain even minute levels of chemicals known to cause cancer or birth effects. And in the almost 20 years since Prop 65 became law, the list of products that must carry the label has grown quite lengthy. State environmental officials are now considering whether foods such as almonds, olives, prune juice, coffee and just about any starchy food that has been baked, roasted, fried or toasted should be labeled. It seems these foods contain acrylamide, a chemical that in high levels has been shown to cause cancer in rats. The federal Food and Drug Administration and many scientists say it isn't clear the low levels found in foods are dangerous to people. But state officials seem ready to force restaurants, supermarkets and food processors to put labels on foods that contain the chemical.