After being inundated with information from movies and books like Super Size Me and Fast Food Nation, we get it: Fast food equals poor health. And it’s now common knowledge that the greasy burgers and oily fries that Americans love so dearly can cause obesity, heart disease, and diabetes, to name just a few fat-induced ailments. But a recent lawsuit settlement spotlights a few more health concerns about some snacks and fast food restaurants.

Yesterday, Kentucky Fried Chicken agreed to warn its California customers (with posters and brochures) that it makes some of its potato products with more than just fat: They also contain a suspected carcinogen. The agreement comes as part of a settlement to a 2005 lawsuit brought against several fast-food chains and snack makers.

From a Los Angeles Times article:

"The attorney general’s office had sued about a dozen major snack and fast-food companies, seeking compliance with Proposition 65, which was passed by voters in 1986 and requires businesses to provide “clear and reasonable” warnings before exposing people to potentially dangerous substances.

The suit, filed in 2005, argued that warnings were needed for cooked potato products because they contain higher levels of acrylamide than other foods. Acrylamide is a byproduct created through the reaction of chemicals in food to high heat."

Acrylamide is linked to various types of cancer.

KFC isn’t the only mega chain that uses the chemical. The attorney general’s office brought the case against Frito-Lay Inc., PepsiCo Inc., H.J. Heinz Co., Kettle Foods Inc., and McDonald’s Corp., too. Burger King Corp. and Wendy’s International are also currently in settlement talks with Supervising Deputy Attorney General Edward G. Weil.

KFC’s warnings will only adorn its California stores because the state is the only in the nation that requires health warnings for acrylamide. Guess the rest of the nation will just have to figure it out without the government’s help. Thanks again.

This article originally appeared in Plenty in April 2007.

Copyright Environ Press 2007

One order of fries, hold the carcinogens
You already knew fries weren't good for your health, but it could be worse than you thought.