Browned toast and potatoes pose 'potential cancer risks', says British public health agency

Browned toast could pose a cancer risk, according to a British public health agency.
Browned toast could pose a cancer risk, according to a British public health agency. PHOTO: INTERNET

LONDON - Research done by Britain's Food Standards Agency (FSA) has claimed that consuming starchy foods such as potatoes and bread which are roasted, fried or grilled too long at high temperatures could pose a cancer risk.

They should be cooked to a golden yellow colour at most, as browning them produces acrylamide, a chemical which forms in certain foods when temperatures go above 120 degrees Celsius.

According to the BBC, the public health agency found that foods with high starch content - crisps, bread, cereal and biscuits among them - contained the highest levels of acrylamide after being cooked at that temperature.

For instance, bread grilled to make toast contains more of the chemical as the sugar, amino acids and water present combine to create colour and acrylamide during the browning process.

The darker the toast, the more acrylamide is present.

While the FSA did not specify consuming how much of the chemical can be considered harmful, it stressed that people are already eating too much of it.

Besides encouraging people to go for a golden yellow colour while toasting, baking or roasting their starchy foods, it also made several recommendations to change the way such foods are cooked and prepared.

These include not keeping raw potatoes in a fridge (store in a cool, dark place above 6 deg C instead) and following the cooking instructions carefully when heating oven chips, pizzas and roast potatoes.

Its campaign, however, has drawn flak for not being able to scientifically prove that there was a link to cancer.

Experts that The Telegraph spoke to pointed out that FSA had based its experiments on mice rather than any studies that showed acrylamide could cause cancer in people.

A Cancer Research spokesman also said the link had not been proven in humans.