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Sunday, 15 November 2015

New study finds high level of cancer-causing chemical in home cooked roast potatoes, chips and toast

Beware the crispy roast potato and the crunchy slice of toast. Both contain worryingly high levels of a cancer-causing chemical.

A new study by the Food Standards Agency (FSA), the Government’s food safety watchdog, measured the amount of acrylamide - a cancer-causing toxin - in roast potatoes, chips and toast cooked in the home.

The FSA’s chief scientific adviser said the new research showed the need for roast potatoes and chips to be cooked to only “a light golden colour” and that bread should be toasted to “the lightest colour acceptable”.

Researchers with the FSA discovered that the crispier the roast potato or chip, the higher the levels of acrylamide they contained. The same went for toast.

The chemical, which is a proven carcinogen, is formed from a reaction between amino acids and the sugars and water found in potatoes and bread when they are subjected to temperatures above 120C.

The problem is the roast potatoes and chips that appeared the most mouth-watering - which were darkest in colour and crispiest in texture - contained the highest levels of acrylamide.

The official research, published last week, showed huge variations in levels of acrylamide depending on how long the potatoes or bread was cooked for.

In a batch of chips cooked for longest, scientists recorded 1,052 microgrammes of acrylamide per kilogramme - 50 times higher than in the batch with the lowest levels of the chemical.

In roast potatoes, the FSA recorded 490 micro grammes of acrylamide per kg in the crispiest and most cooked batch - 80 times higher than the levels contained in the palest batch of roast potatoes cooked.

The same was true of toast. The palest, least cooked toast contained just 9 microgrammes per kg while the crispiest toast contained 167 microgrammes - almost 19 times more.

Professor Guy Poppy, the FSA’s Chief Scientific Adviser, said in a report accompanying the study: “The risk assessment indicates that at the levels we are exposed to from food, acrylamide could be increasing the risk of cancer.”

Prof Poppy added: “We do not advise people to stop eating particular foods but... when making chips at home, they are cooked to a light golden colour.”

He said that “bread should be toasted to the lightest colour acceptable”.

Scientists are still unclear about what constitutes a safe level of acrylamide and the European Commission is currently considering introducing maximum levels.

There is a regulatory limit of just 0.1 microgrammes per litre for the amount of acrylamide that can be present in drinking water in the EU - a quantity far lower than found in cooked potatoes, toast or other substances including coffee.

The FSA study took samples of cooked potatoes and toast from 50 households, bagging up the samples and then measuring the levels of acrylamide in the laboratory.

Researchers found that none of the householders were aware of the possible dangers of acrylamide lurking in cooked potatoes or toast - and had no idea that prolonged cooking caused the chemical to be produced in higher volumes.

Read more:

Double the risk by cooking in vegetable oils, not that I'm concerned as chips roast spuds and to toast have been off the menu for a few years now  !!



Amy at Ms. Toody Goo Shoes said...

Wow, that's an eye-opener! I love my crispy roasted potatoes! I wonder if the same holds true for roasted veggies, like zucchini.

Linda said...

Every day something is shown to be bad for you. Yikes!

Passthecream said...

Cooked carbs are much nastier than red meat ever will be!


Lowcarb team member said...

Thanks for your comment.
I am no scientific expert ... but reading through the article it would appear it is the level of sugar in the potatoes, bread that generate acrylamides which may be harmful.
The lower carb vegetables such as zucchini / courgettes do not contain the higher amounts of starch/sugar so I would think they are fine to eat. Zucchini / courgettes will certainly still be included in my recipe plans. Because I live the LCHF lifestyle things that contain a higher amount of starchy carbs ( i.e. sugar ) like roast potatoes / bread do not appear in my menu plans.
Having said that I do include the flaxseed bread as featured here

Hope my comment may help.

All the best Jan

Lowcarb team member said...

Graham does find many interesting article to share with all our readers.
Information is important for us to research further, if we wish to, and make our own informed choice ...

Many thanks for your comment.

All the best Jan

Lowcarb team member said...

C (aka'Passthecream')

Yes give me a tasty beef bourguignon to 'cooked carbs' any day.
This recipe here is one I really recommend

Many thanks for your comments, we love receiving, reading and sharing them ...

All the best Jan

Gail said...

It's scary when we've always been taught to brown everything.

Thanks, Jan. Bottle trees themselves are fascinating. I think they originated in the Kongo with the belief that the colorful bottles captivated and captured the evil spirits before they could enter your home. It is a custom mainly in the south.

Have a blessed evening.

Lowcarb team member said...

...perhaps you may just wish to lightly brown any potatoes and bread you roast / toast!

I read with interest about bottle trees on this site here

If any reader would like to go over to Gails blog and see her bottle tree it's here

Many thanks for your comments on the low carb diabetic blog, we love receiving, reading and sharing them.

All the best Jan

chris c said...

I wonder how much of the effect is caused by the "heart healthy" Omega 6 seed oils and if genuinely healthy fats would cause the same amount of acrylamide to be produced. Otherwise why didn't our parents and grandparents all die of cancer?

Lowcarb team member said...

Reading through part of the article, in the Telegraph, it states " Cooking with vegetable oils releases toxic chemicals linked to cancer and other diseases, according to leading scientists, who are now recommending food be fried in olive oil, coconut oil, butter or even lard."

My mum and my Gran(s) both used lard when cooking - this of course 'went out of favour/fashion' for a while...but more and more of us are now using lard, butter, coconut oil, olive oil, (ghee) which I think is a much healthier option.

Just my thoughts ...

All the best Jan

chris c said...

Decades later and the truth is starting to emerge. Yes from a purely chemical/physics point of view, saturated fats are less reactive, and monounsaturates not much less so. Probably that's why animals evolved to use them for energy storage. Plants/seeds which use Omega 6s also have to produce antioxidants and other chemicals to stabilise them.