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Potato Now A Cancer Risk? Health Officials Warn Against Roasting Potatoes, Other Starchy Foods At High Temperatures

Update Date: Jan 23, 2017 09:50 AM EST

The U.K. Food Standards Agency (FDA) has warned against cooking potatoes and other starch food at high temperatures over cancer risk.

The agency is urging cooks to move away from fried, backed and toasted starchy foods and not serve them anything more than a light golden yellow. The chemical acrylamide, which is released by the browning process.

The message, however, is to cut back on browned and burnt toast, cook roast potatoes, parsnips and chips carefully to just a golden yellow color; and consume fewer crisps, cakes and biscuits.

What Is Acrylamide?

According to the National Cancer Institute, acrylamide is used chiefly as a building block in producing polyacrylamide and acrylamide copolymers, which are used in many industrial processes. Certain foods contain this chemical, especially those heated to a temperature of 120 degrees Celsius (248 degrees Fahrenheit).

Specifically, potato chips and French fries have been found to contain higher levels of acrylamide. Studies in animals have shown that acrylamide exposure poses a risk for several types of cancer. This suggests that it could also cause cancer in humans.

What To Do?

The FSA recommends to "go for gold", which means aim for a golden yellow color or lighter when baking, frying, toasting or roasting starchy foods. This also applied to parsnips and all types of potato products too.

"It's those kinds of trade-offs we're encouraging people to just think about," Steve Wearne from the FSA, said as reported by the New Scientist.

"We're not saying to people to worry about the occasional meal that's a bit overcooked. This is about managing risk across your whole lifetime," he added.

Boiling, steaming or microwaving food is a much better and healthier option, BBC News reports. Also, scraping off the dark brown side of a toast might help reduce its acrylamide content a bit.

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