Tuesday 24 April 2018

'Fluffing up' roast potatoes is bad for your health - here's why

Roast potatoes or chips turned dark-brown with lots of crispy bits are a recipe for increasing your cancer risk, according to a new health warning. Photo: GETTY
Roast potatoes or chips turned dark-brown with lots of crispy bits are a recipe for increasing your cancer risk, according to a new health warning. Photo: GETTY
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

Christmas cooks are urged to avoid making roast potatoes "crunchy brown" to avoid a cancer risk.

Acrylamide, which can cause cancer, is a chemical substance that naturally forms when frying, roasting or baking certain carbohydrate-rich foodstuffs at temperatures above 120°C.

The Food Safety Authority said cooks who are frying, roasting, toasting or baking starchy foods, should avoid burning, and cook food to a light golden colour - always follow the cooking instructions on the label.

Food products which have been found to contain acrylamide include; French fries, potato crisps, crackers, breads, biscuits, cookies, rusks, cereal bars, scones, cornets, wafers, crumpets, gingerbread, breakfast cereals (excluding porridge), coffee and coffee substitutes.

Consumers should consider boiling foods as part of maintaining an overall healthy balanced diet to reduce any risks.

And they are advised that roast potatoes should not be "fluffed up" to maximise dark brown crispy bits and they should be roasted to the lightest colour that is acceptable. Toast should also be browned to a light brown colour.

Acrylamide forms due to a chemical reaction between certain sugars and an amino acid (asparagine) in food.

Boiling, steaming and microwaving appear far less likely to cause the reaction.

Studies in mice have shown that high levels of acrylamide can cause neurological damage and cancer.

While studies in humans have proved inconclusive, experts believe the compound has the ability to cause cancer in humans.

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