The UK government's Food Standards Agency (FSA) warned the public against eating crunchy toasts and roasted potatoes. The food safety watchdog said in a new report that when overcooked, these tasty breakfast favorites may contain high amounts of acrylamide, a cancer-causing substance.
FSA's chief scientific adviser Guy Poppy said that the research highlighted the importance of cooking potatoes, chips and toasts only to a certain degree of heat, making sure the final result is in its "lightest color possible."
Acrylamide is a well-recognized carcinogen formed by combining the amino acids, waters and sugars contained in potatoes and breads that are cooked in temperatures exceeding 120 degrees Celsius.
The researchers of the new study found that the crisper a spud gets, the higher acrylamide levels it contains. The same goes for toasts.
Specifically, the researchers found that chips cooked in the longest duration had 1,052 micrograms of acrylamide per kilogram. This number is said to be 50 times higher than the batch of chips that are less crunchy.
The roast potatoes cooked in the highest temperature and with the most crisp texture had 940 micrograms of acrylamide per kilogram, which is 80 times higher that the batch with the lightest-colored potatoes.
As for the toast, the batch with the palest color and the least cooked bread only had 9 micrograms per kilogram of acrylamide, while the crispiest had 167, translating to nearly 19 times more toxic content.
"The risk assessment indicates that at the levels we are exposed to from food, acrylamide could be increasing the risk of cancer," said Poppy, who noted that the team is not discouraging people from eating specific foods but advises consumers to cook chips and toast bread to the lightest color acceptable.
Experts have not been able to identify the exact features of a safe acrylamide level and the European Commission is presently looking at establishing maximum amounts. Currently, the regulatoratory limit is 0.1 microgram per liter in a drinking water, which is significantly lower than what is found in toasts, cooked potatoes and other food items like coffee.
The reports was published by the Food Standards Agency in its website.
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