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1 posts from February 2017

01 February 2017

Cancer, burnt toast and roast potatoes

Country-potatoes-712661_1280

I should think the entire western world is now afraid to eat their roast potatoes.  This comes after the international media coverage  of the UK Food Standards Agency’s new campaign “"Go for Gold” , [@CABI_Health 23rd Jan ], which hopes to encourage us (UK) to reduce acrylamide in our diet by cooking starchy foods to a pale golden colour and no further.

Speaking as someone who spent nearly 20 years in labs handling acrylamide on a daily basis (for analysing proteins), I can’t say I am too worried about the acrylamide content of my Sunday lunch roast potatoes  and burning my toast.

But what about the general public? Should they be nervous…so what is behind the UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) campaign?

It’s their recently published Total diet study of inorganic contaminants, acrylamide & mycotoxins (TDS-2014), covering years 2014 and 2015 for the UK, and how the results fit with European Food Safety Agency (EFSA) recommendations.

A total diet study differs from other food surveys in that foods are firstly prepared and cooked for consumption. The aim of TDS-2014 was to estimate dietary exposure to contaminants for population age groups: it assessed 138 food categories, and for each category pooled food items collected from 24 UK towns.

Acrylamide put in perspective

Acrylamide occurs naturally in our diets, when starchy foods like potatoes, parsnips & bread, are cooked at high temperatures for long periods (e.g. baking, frying, toasting and roasting). The darker the colour, the more acrylamide…so the advice is go for gold[en] not burnt.

Studies in animals have shown that acrylamide in their diet can damage DNA and so this means it can cause cancer. Studies in people are inconclusive.

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