Roast potatoes ‘a potential cancer risk’

Potatoes  and Acrylamide

Acrylamide is a chemical used primarily as a building block in making polyacrylamide and acrylamide copolymers. They have proven without doubt to be causing cancer in animal models. Scientist believe that the case is not going to be different in humans. The evidence from human studies is not complete.

Researchers in Europe and the United States have found acrylamide in certain foods that were heated to a temperature above 120 degrees Celsius, but not in foods prepared below this temperature . Potato chips and French fries were found to contain higher levels of acrylamide compared with other foods.

The World Health Organization and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations stated that the levels of acrylamide in foods pose a “major concern” and that more research is needed to determine the risk of dietary acrylamide exposure.

Cancer risk associated with cooking potatoes and other starchy foods at high temperatures

Where is Acrylamide coming from?

Asparagine is an amino acid that is found in many vegetables, with higher concentrations in some varieties of potatoes. When heated to high temperatures in the presence of certain sugars, asparagine can form acrylamide. High-temperature cooking methods, such as frying, baking, or broiling, have been found to produce acrylamide. Acrylamide is also present in breakfast cereals, biscuits and coffee.

Video from New Scientist

What’s the way out

People can reduce eating  high calorie foods like crisps, chips and biscuits, which are major sources of acrylamide.  And if one is opting for frying, baking, toasting or roasting starchy foods, the FSA’s(UK Food Standards Agency) advice is to “go for gold”: aim for a golden yellow colour or lighter.

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