BEACON TRANSCRIPT – Can burnt toast kill you? Apparently it can, along with crispy potato fries and chips, as a recent study has found that these types of food contain high levels of a chemical called acrylamide that causes cancer. Published by the Food Standards Agency, this new study tested common foods to see how much acrylamide they contained.
The Food Standards Agency has classified acrylamide as a genotoxic carcinogen due to the chemical’s potential of affecting the DNA in cells and causing cancer because of the modifications it does to the genetic material. And the study that the agency conducted showed that crispy potato fries and chips as well as bunt toast contain high levels of acrylamide.
Research shows that acrylamide is formed in food such as potatoes and bread when the sugars, amino acids and water in these products interact after being exposed to temperatures above 120 degrees Celsius or 248 degrees Fahrenheit. It was also found that the longer these foods are cooked at these high temperatures the more acrylamide builds up inside them and the more dangerous they become.
Scientists involved in the study collected samples of toast and potatoes from 50 different households and tested them for the levels of acrylamide they contained. In the case of toasted bread, the one with the palest color contained 9 micrograms of acrylamide per kilogram while the darkest toast, which had been cooked the most contained 167 micrograms of acrylamide per kilogram, which is 19 times more than the least cooked toast.
Similar results were found in the case of both potato fries and roast potatoes, as the palest fries contained 50 times less than the most well-cooked fries, which had a level of acrylamide of 1052 micrograms per kilogram. With roast potatoes the less cooked batch contained 80 times less than the crispiest and most cooked potatoes, which had 490 micrograms of acrylamide per kilogram.
Professor Guy Poppy, the FSA’s chief scientific adviser, explained that the amounts of acrylamide found in the foods that were cooked longer posed an increased cancer risk for people consuming them because of the effects it has on modifying the genetic material.
The FSA offered some advice after publishing the report and recommended that people try to only cook potatoes until they are light gold in color and that they try to toast their bread as little as possible in order to avoid increased cancer risk because of the amount of acrylamide they ingest.
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