Press Release

California Attorney General’s French-fry Lawsuits May Violate Federal Law

Sacramento, CA – Citing a recent reprimand of California Attorney General Bill Lockyer by Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Lester Crawford, the nonprofit Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF) called on Lockyer to withdraw his lawsuits, filed late Friday, against nine restaurant and food companies. Two weeks ago, Crawford chided Lockyer over the “misleading” and potentially illegal nature of Proposition 65 warnings on foods without scientific basis. Lockyer’s suits seek Prop 65 warning labels to scare consumers about trace amounts of acrylamide in French fries and potato chips. CCF believes that Lockyer should defer to the FDA’s demonstrated understanding of toxicology and risk assessment.

In a similar case, Lockyer’s office is using Proposition 65 to warn consumers about tiny and harmless amounts of methylmercury in canned tuna. On August 12 the FDA warned Lockyer that Proposition 65 warnings about mercury in tuna would be “without any scientific basis as to the possible harm caused by the particular foods in questions, or as to the amounts of such foods that would be required to cause this harm. The FDA believes the Proposition 65 warnings are misleading under section 403 of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, causing tuna products with such warnings to be misbranded under federal law.”

The FDA’s pointed reprimand of California’s Attorney General applies equally to acrylamide, which occurs naturally when starchy foods are heated at high temperatures. Studies published in the British Journal of Cancer and the Journal of the American Medical Association show no added risk of cancer from acrylamide at the levels commonly found in food.

And using published data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, a person of average weight would have to eat over 62 pounds of potato chips or 182 pounds of French fries — every day, for his or her entire life — in order to have the weight-adjusted cancer risk found in lab rats.

“Scaring Americans about acrylamide in fried potatoes makes as much sense as warning them about a giant asteroid hitting the earth,” said Center for Consumer Freedom executive director Rick Berman. “Acrylamide is also found in asparagus, beets, and spinach, but no one seriously believes government-mandated warning labels belong in the produce aisle.

“Unless we all stop eating breakfast cereal, give up toast, and swear off spinach, harmless amounts of acrylamide will be a fact of life,” Berman added. “When the government forces food companies and restaurants to scare consumers half to death, is anyone being properly served?”

To learn about the nonexistent health risk from acrylamide in food, vist

Founded in 1996, the Center for Consumer Freedom is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization devoted to promoting personal responsibility and protecting consumer choices. For more information, visit


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