US government scientists say toast bread, fried plantains, chips and potatoes should be cooked to a golden colour, not browned.
Acrylamide, a by-product of the cooking process, is found in browned foods, and this increases the risk of cancer.
Guy Poppy, chief scientific adviser to the Food Standards Agency, in a statement, said: “Acrylamide is a natural chemical which is formed when you heat certain food, such as starchy foods like potatoes and root vegetables.
“When they’re cooked to above 120 degrees they naturally form acrylamide. It’s part of the cooking process, which improves the texture and the taste of food.”
High levels of acrylamide are also found in crisps, cakes, biscuits, cereals and coffee.
Although laboratory tests have shown that acrylamide in the diet causes cancer in animals, it is yet to be demonstrated in humans.
Scientists, however, say that acrylamide has the potential to cause cancer in humans.
“The levels of acrylamide that are present in our diet are higher than we would be comfortable with, says Diane Benford, head of risk assessment at the FSA.
“We would prefer them to be lower. And so, that’s why the Food Standards Agency is encouraging industry to try to reduce acrylamide levels in processed foods. And we wish to raise awareness among consumers of the things they could do to help reduce their exposure to acrylamide in food.”
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