Acrylamide is a chemical compound that can be found in fried or baked goods, produced by the reaction of a naturally occurring amino acid, asparagine, and sugars. More acrylamide is found in overcooked fried or baked foods. It can also be found in coffee and in microwaved foods. You can see a list of the amounts found in some foods here.
The reason that acrylamide is a carcinogen that is found in fairly high amounts in cigarettes, as well as in foods, and because it is a carcinogen, eating it might be associated with an increased risk of cancer. Some lawmakers have campaigned for warning labels to be added to foods in an effort to make sure that the public is properly informed, but without much success. Fortunately for them, Chinese scientists may have found a way to reduce acrylamide in foods by simply soaking he food in question in a bamboo leaf extract before cooking.
"Bamboo extract has potent antioxidant properties" that apparently contributed to the nonformation of acrylamide. Raw potato pieces soaked in the stuff had 75% less acrylamide when fried into french fries and potato chips afterwards - and the scientists noted that the bamboo extract did not change the food's flavor.