Dark toast and roast potatoes linked to increased risk of cancer, British agency warns in new campaign

A British agency has taken longstanding warnings about the health risks of overdone toast and potatoes to a new level, launching a public-awareness campaign on how to curb consumption of a possible carcinogen in the foods.

Author : Tom Blackwell

The “Go for the gold” project — using a U.K. Olympic medallist as spokeswoman — targets acrylamide, a chemical produced by cooking starchy items, and linked in some studies to cancer.

Health Canada has offered similar advice — and even approved a food additive to reduce levels of the substance — since at least 2009, though the science around acrylamide as a carcinogen is less than definitive.

The chemical is produced when certain foods are cooked at high temperatures and for prolonged periods.

Britain’s Food Standards Agency is urging people to aim for a “golden yellow colour or lighter” when frying, baking, toasting or roasting starchy products like potatoes, root vegetables and bread.

There is an important job for government, industry and others to do to help reduce acrylamide intake

It also recommends following instructions for heating packaged food, and to not keep raw potatoes in the refrigerator, which can also increase levels of acrylamide. As well, people should eat a healthy, balanced died including plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, said the agency.

Health Canada issued virtually identical advice in February 2009, including the suggestion that bread be toasted to “the lightest colour acceptable.”

Nevertheless, most Britons remain unaware of the existence of the chemical, or its possible dangers, Steve Wearne, director of policy for the U.K. agency, said in a statement Monday.

Source : National Post