Cancer-fighting additive weighed for junk food Last Updated: Tuesday, December 22, 2009 CBC News Canada is investigating whether to approve a cancer-fighting additive's use in junk food, but Health Canada wants consumers to weigh in on the idea first. The concern surrounds a chemical byproduct called acrylamide that is produced when carbohydrates such as bread or potatoes are cooked at high temperatures. Studies in mice suggest acrylamide may cause cancer. There is less evidence in humans, but the suggestion that it might has governments and food manufacturers looking for ways to reduce the potential. That's where the additive comes in. It's an enzyme used in some chemotherapy agents to treat leukemia. Food manufacturers say adding it could bring down levels of acrylamide in heated foods since the enzyme breaks down the acrylamide. Health Canada's safety assessment of the enzyme, which is called asparaginase, didn't turn up any health or safety concerns. 'At some stage, we need to take responsibility for our own good health.'Liz Head Use of the enzyme is approved by regulators in the U.S., Australia, New Zealand and Denmark, and has been given a green light by the Joint Food and Agriculture Organization/World Health Organization Expert Committee on Food Additives, Health Canada said. The Canadian regulator is seeking public comments on the proposal until Feb. 21. The proposal has generated a lot of opinions from consumers. "I thought Health Canada was supposed to encourage healthy eating habits," Judith Ryan told CBC News. "If the additive is used, people will think junk food is safe and eat more. The result will be more obesity, more diabetes and more heart disease, and eventually more costs to the health-care system. How smart is this?" Liz Head called the proposal "rubbish." "When are we going to learn that to be healthy human beings we need to change our eating habits? The best way to prevent cancer is to eat a diet rich in fruit, vegetables, complex carbohydrates and some protein. At some stage, we need to take responsibility for our own good health and I know those changes are hard to make. Just put some sour cream and onion chips in front of me!"