Potato chip and French fry makers settle with attorney general

Chris Rizo Aug. 2, 2008, 12:08am

LOS ANGELES(Legal Newsline)-Four potato chip and French fry makers have agreed to reduce the levels of a cancer-causing chemical in their product, Attorney General Jerry Brown said Friday.

The Democratic attorney general filed lawsuits in 2005 against H.J. Heinz, Frito-Lay, Lance Inc and Kettle Foods, along with Procter & Gamble PG.N and four fast-food chains: McDonald's, KFC and Wendy's in 2005 for selling products with high levels of acrylamide.

Last year, the restaurant agreed to post acrylamide warnings at their restaurants and to pay civil penalties and costs. In January, Procter & Gamble agreed to reduce acrylamide in Pringles potato chips by 50 percent so that no warning would be required.

"The companies agreed to reduce this carcinogenic chemical in fried potatoes -- a victory for public health and safety in California," Brown said. "Other companies should follow this lead and take steps to reduce acrylamide in French fries and potato chips."

Acrylamide is a byproduct of frying, roasting and baking foods, particularly potatoes.

The state sued the companies under Proposition 65, the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act, which requires businesses to post warnings of any cancer-causing chemicals in their products.

Under the settlements, Frito-Lay Inc, which sells most of the potato chips sold in California, will reduce acrylamide by 20 percent, the attorney general's office said.

The settlements were approved Friday by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge William Highberger, averting a scheduled July 28 trial.

From Legal Newsline: Reach reporter Chris Rizo at chrisrizo@legalnewsline.com.

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