Cancer warning over chips and roast potatoes

By Michelle Perrett

- Last updated on GMT

FSA warning: don't over cook the chips
FSA warning: don't over cook the chips

Related tags Starch

Pub chips and roast potatoes are under the spotlight after the Food Standards Agency (FSA) issued a warning about the possibility of cancer-causing acrylamides. 

Acrylamide is a chemical substance formed by a reaction between amino acids and sugars. It typically occurs when foods with high starch content such as potatoes, root vegetables and bread are cooked for long periods at high temperatures, such as when baking, frying, grilling, toasting and roasting. The scientific consensus is that acrylamide has the potential to cause cancer in humans.

The FSA has warned that raw potatoes should not be stored in the fridge if they are intended for roasting or frying. The reason for this is that it may lead to the formation of more free sugars that can increase overall acrylamide levels especially if the potatoes are then fried, roasted or baked. Raw potatoes should ideally be stored in a dark, cool place at temperatures above 6°C, it said.

It has also said that: "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."

However, the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) has reassured its members following the reports.

ALMR chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “Retailers should not be unduly worried. Provisions for hospitality venues have been in place for some time now regarding burnt food and most venues will be briefed and aware of any risks.

“Although this is primarily an at-home issue, the ALMR has been liaising with the Government to promote the work already being carried out by the sector. The campaign has been driven by European legislation and the ALMR has also been engaged at that level to provide guidance for the sector.

“The ALMR has also produced a detailed brief for its members providing information on the FSA’s campaign and guidance reducing any risks associated with cooking.”

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