Browned toast and potatoes are 'potential cancer risks'

24 January 2017

Potatoes and bread cooked at high temperatures for a long time could increase the risk of cancer in people who eat them regularly, scientists claim.

The U.K. Food Standards Agency (FSA) said a substance called acrylamide, produced when starchy foods are roasted, toasted, baked, fried or grilled for too long at high temperatures, has been found in animal studies to increase the risk of cancer.

Steve Wearne, Director of Policy at the Food Standards Agency, says that to reduce the danger, consumers should cook these foods at lower temperatures and eat them when they are cooked to a golden colour rather than browned.

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“Our research indicates that the majority of people are not aware that acrylamide exists, or that they might be able to reduce their personal intake,” he said in a statement. “We want our 'Go for Gold' campaign to highlight the issue so that consumers know how to make the small changes that may reduce their acrylamide consumption whilst still eating plenty of starchy carbohydrates and vegetables as recommended in government healthy eating advice.”

The FSA’s Go for Gold campaign encourages to people to make small changes to how they cook, to help minimise acrylamide consumption in the home.

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For instance, consumers are reminded to check cooking instructions and to aim for a golden yellow colour or lighter when frying, baking, toasting or roasting starchy foods like potatoes, root vegetables and bread. The FSA also recommends storing raw potatoes in a cool, dark place rather than in the fridge and opting for a varied and balanced diet.

“Although there is more to know about the true extent of the acrylamide risk, there is an important job for government, industry and others to do to help reduce acrylamide intake. This campaign is part of the FSA's wider work to reduce the level of acrylamide that people consume,” added Wearne. “The FSA is continuing to work closely with the food industry to reduce acrylamide in the food you buy, including the development of practical tools like an industry toolkit and codes of practice which will be embedded throughout the food chain.”

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