PCRM Files Lawsuit Over Carcinogens in Grilled Chicken
Most people know that fried chicken is not a healthy food, but how many realize that consuming grilled chicken can increase the risk of cancer? In independent laboratory tests commissioned by PCRM, 100 grilled chicken items from McDonald’s, Burger King, Chick-fil-A, Chili’s, Applebee’s, Outback Steakhouse, and TGI Friday’s were all found to contain PhIP, one of a group of carcinogens called heterocyclic amines (HCAs).
PhIP and other HCAs are formed from the creatinine, amino acids, and sugar found in muscle tissue, and are produced by long cooking times and hot temperatures. As mutagens, HCAs can bind directly to DNA and cause mutations—the first step in cancer development.
California’s Proposition 65 states that consumers must be warned about products that contain known carcinogens. For more than a decade, PhIP has been on the California governor’s list of chemicals known to cause cancer. PCRM has gone to court under California’s Proposition 65 to compel the seven restaurant chains to warn consumers about the carcinogens found in their grilled chicken.
Unfortunately, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has sided against consumer safety by writing a letter on behalf of the seven defendants. The letter argues that PCRM’s lawsuit is preempted by federal labeling laws for meat and chicken, and that warning consumers about PhIP would “obstruct [the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service’s] efforts to prevent foodborne illnesses because the warning would imply that cooking poultry somehow renders the poultry unsafe or unwholesome.”
The seven defendants are fighting the lawsuit, hoping to be able to avoid informing customers about the cancer-causing chemicals in their products. PCRM general counsel Dan Kinburn will appear in court in the new year to argue the case.