Scottish Daily Mail

Crunchy roasties ‘more likely to give you can­cer’

- By Sean Poul­ter Con­sumer Af­fairs Ed­i­tor Food · Healthy Living · Healthy Food · Cooking · Nigella Lawson · Jamie Oliver · Roasting · Food Standards Agency · Food and Drink Federation

CELEBRITY chefs’ tips on how to get crispy roast pota­toes creates higher lev­els of a can­cer-risk chem­i­cal, sci­en­tists have claimed.

Ex­perts at the Food Stan­dards Agency (FSA) warn that the Bri­tish love of crunchy spuds with their Sun­day roast ex­poses them to the chem­i­cal acryl­amide, which is also found in tobacco smoke.

TV chefs such as Nigella Law­son and Jamie Oliver sug­gest that get­ting the per­fect roast potato in­volves par­boil­ing them first, be­fore drain­ing and then shak­ing them in the pan. This fluffs up the out­side, cre­at­ing more edges which catch the hot oil to cre­ate a crisp coat­ing. But the FSA warns against this method, say­ing: ‘The in­creased sur­face area may lead to greater acryl­amide gen­er­a­tion.’

Its chief sci­en­tific ad­viser, Pro­fes­sor Guy Poppy, added: ‘The risk as­sess­ment in­di­cates that at the lev­els we are ex­posed to from food, acryl­amide could be in­creas­ing the risk of can­cer.’

Acryl­amide forms as starchy foods are browned dur­ing high-tem­per­a­ture cook­ing such as fry­ing, bak­ing and roast­ing, but re­searchers also found that even cook­ing lead­ing brands of food ac­cord­ing to pack in­struc­tions causes the chem­i­cal lev­els to soar.

The food groups con­tribut­ing most to acryl­amide ex­po­sure are fried potato prod­ucts, cof­fee, bis­cuits, crack­ers, crisp bread and soft bread. The Food and Drink Fed­er­a­tion, which speaks for man­u­fac­tur­ers, said: ‘Acryl­amide is nat­u­rally formed in the cook­ing process in both home-cooked and man­u­fac­tured food. Al­though it can­not be com­pletely elim­i­nated from cer­tain types of foods, we have been work­ing to re­duce its for­ma­tion for a num­ber of years.’

The FSA advises fam­i­lies to cook pota­toes only to a light golden colour and ‘bread should be toasted to the light­est colour ac­cept­able’.

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