Furan: A Food-borne Flavor Carcinogen
Cancer has been ranked as #1 threat to human's health and life and cancer research has been a challenging topic for medical and biological researchers since it was found. Even with the development of advanced medicine and medical technology, there has been no complete cure of most of cancers so far. Besides looking for effective medicines to treat cancer cases, simple preventative practices in daily life based on reducing food-derived carcinogens are of equal importance. Furans are a class of highly volatile heterocyclic organic compounds associated with the flavor of many foodstuffs. In year 2004 FDA announced wide presence of furans in thermally-processed food products especially in canned and jarred food. Furan in food is of concern because it was found to induce tumors at high doses according to animal tests and considered to be possible human carcinogen (group 2B) by International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). Furan reduction in foods is quite challenging and the only promising mitigation approach seems to be intervention of the reaction pathways of furan formation, which relies on deeper and clearer understanding of the wide precursors and their respective reactions. So far, research on establishing model systems in which the formation mechanisms of furan and its derivatives can be studied has been ongoing but far from maturation. Therefore, there need to be more mature models established and tuned in order to draw a full picture of furan formation mechanism.