Eating burnt toast or burnt roast potatoes could be a cancer risk, according to food safety chiefs.
People are being urged to ensure their toast and roast potatoes are golden brown to avoid a suspected cancer risk.
The UK’s Food Standards Agency is warning that overcooking potatoes and bread could expose people to a possible carcinogen called acrylamide.
The warning is part of a newly launched “Go for Gold” campaign . Acrylamide is a chemical that is created when many foods, particularly starchy foods like potatoes and bread, are cooked for long periods at high temperatures, such as when baking, frying, grilling, toasting and roasting.
Steve Wearne, Director of Policy at the Food Standards Agency said: ‘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.”
Here are some tips from the FSA to empower you to make small changes on how you cook, to help minimise acrylamide consumption in the home:
- Go for Gold– as a general rule of thumb, aim for a golden yellow colour or lighter when frying, baking, toasting or roasting starchy foods like potatoes, root vegetables and bread.
- Check the pack– follow the cooking instructions carefully when frying or oven-heating packaged food products such as chips, roast potatoes and parsnips. The on-pack instructions are designed to cook the product correctly. This ensures that you aren’t cooking starchy foods for too long or at temperatures which are too high.
- Eat a varied and balanced diet– while we can’t completely avoid risks like acrylamide in food, eating a healthy balanced diet that includes basing meals on starchy carbohydrates and getting your 5 A Day will help reduce your risk of cancer.
- Don’t keep raw potatoes in the fridge– if you intend to roast or fry them. Storing raw potatoes in the fridge can increase overall acrylamide levels. Raw potatoes should ideally be stored in a dark, cool place at temperatures above 6°C.
Denise Lewis, Olympic gold medalist who launched the Go for Gold campaign said: ‘As a mum, the wellbeing of my family is my top priority, particularly when it comes to the meals I cook for them at home. With so many factors to consider, it’s great that the FSA is helping people to understand the changes we can make to reduce acrylamide in the food we eat regularly at home’.