Scottish Daily Mail
Crunchy roasties ‘more likely to give you cancer’
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’.