How a weekly visit to the chip shop (and your burnt toast) can give you cancer
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.
Families are being cautioned that roast potatoes should not be "fluffed up" and they should be roasted to the lightest colour that is acceptable. Toast should also be browned to a light colour to reduce the risks of acrylamide.
This is the chemical compound that forms in some foods when they are cooked at high temperatures (above 120C).
Studies in mice have shown that high levels of acrylamide can cause neurological damage and cancer.
While studies have proved inconclusive, experts believe the compound has the ability to cause cancer in humans as well.
Acrylamide is found in high levels in a range of favourite foods including breakfast cereals (except porridge), chips, potato products (such as waffles or children's potato shapes), biscuits, crackers and crispbread. Skinny fries and crisps appear to have the highest levels.
It is also found in coffee, cooked pizza bases, black olives and cereal-based baby foods.
Root vegetables including potatoes, sweet potatoes, beetroot, turnip, swede and parsnips can carry high levels, once roasted or fried until darker brown or crispy.