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PCRM Files Lawsuit Over Carcinogens in Grilled Chicken

Everyone knows that fried chicken is not a health food, but most consumers are unaware that grilled chicken also poses a disturbing health risk: carcinogens. PCRM has filed suit under California’s Proposition 65 to compel seven national restaurant chains in the state to warn consumers about the dangerous cancer-causing compound found in their grilled chicken.

chicken with grillPCRM commissioned an independent laboratory to test grilled chicken products from California outlets of all seven chains: McDonald’s, Burger King, Chick-fil-A, Chili’s, Applebee’s, Outback Steakhouse, and TGI Friday’s. Every sample of grilled chicken from each restaurant was found to contain PhiP, one of a group of carcinogens called heterocyclic amines, or HCAs.

California’s Proposition 65 states that consumers must be warned about products that contain known carcinogens. In 2005, the federal government officially added HCAs to its list of carcinogens, and for more than a decade, PhIP has been on the California governor’s list of chemicals known to cause cancer.

HCAs are formed from the creatinine, amino acids, and sugar found in muscle tissue, and are produced by long cooking times and hot temperatures. This makes grilling, pan frying, and oven broiling particularly dangerous cooking methods. As mutagens, HCAs can bind directly to DNA and cause mutations—the first step in cancer development.

“Grilled chicken may increase the risk of cancer, and consumers deserve to know that this supposedly healthy product is actually just as bad for them as high-fat fried chicken,” says PCRM president Neal Barnard, M.D. “Even a grilled chicken salad increases the risk of breast cancer, prostate cancer, and other forms of this lethal disease.”

To avoid HCAs, try grilling up homemade veggie burgers, portabella mushrooms, or vegetable and tofu kebabs. Choosing plant-based foods can lower cancer risk in other ways as well. Not only are plant foods low in fat and high in protective fiber, but they also contain antioxidants and phytochemicals, which have been shown to help prevent cancer.


PCRM Online, November 2006

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