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New Food Carcinogen: Acrylamide

There’s a new evil in your favourite toasted foods. It’s called Acrylamide, and it forms when you over-cook starchy foods. Do you like your Toast dark and your Fries extra-crispy? British officials say you ought to review their latest cooking guidelines before preparing your next burnt sacrifice…

Burned Toast - © hellodoctor.co.zaBurned Toast. Could be full of Acrylamides. How dark is too dark?

Acrylamides are compounds that form when cooking Starchy and Sugary foods to the extreme. That is, when the foods form a black crust – the kind of thing so sought after by BBQ pros and folks who like their Fries extra-crispy.

Acrylamides have been shown to cause cancer in significant concentrations. They form when Sugars that occur naturally in many foods combine with Asparagine, an amino acid that is also found in many common foods. The reaction happens under high cooking temperatures – the kind that cause foods to blacken on the surface.

Potatoes, Grain products, and Coffee Beans are among the foods most likely to produce Acrylamides when over-cooked. But ‘Blackened’ foods and BBQed meats can also harbour serious levels of the carcinogen.

The authorities weigh in…

The UK Food Standards Agency has published new guidelines for avoiding Acrylamides. The chief recommendations include:

  • Aim for Golden Brown when frying, baking, toasting or roasting starchy foods.
  • Follow the package recommendations when cooking packaged foods.
  • Don’t store raw Potatoes in the fridge. That makes them develop more Sugars which could be turned into Acrylamides during cooking.
  • Eat a well-balanced diet, one with more Green Veggies and less Starch.

So… Now you know. I’ve done my culinary duty. Eat right. Live Long. Prosper.

~ Maggie J.