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Crunchy toast could give you cancer, FSA warns

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Every day, a little less joy...

A new study by the Food Standards Agency (FSA), the Government’s food safety watchdog, measured the amount of acrylamide - a cancer-causing toxin - in roast potatoes, chips and toast cooked in the home.

The FSA’s chief scientific adviser said the new research showed the need for roast potatoes and chips to be cooked to only “a light golden colour” and that bread should be toasted to “the lightest colour acceptable”.

Researchers with the FSA discovered that the crispier the roast potato or chip, the higher the levels of acrylamide they contained. The same went for toast.

The chemical, which is a proven carcinogen, is formed from a reaction between amino acids and the sugars and water found in potatoes and bread when they are subjected to temperatures above 120C.

The problem is the roast potatoes and chips that appeared the most mouth-watering - which were darkest in colour and crispiest in texture - contained the highest levels of acrylamide.

The official research, published last week, showed huge variations in levels of acrylamide depending on how long the potatoes or bread was cooked for.

In a batch of chips cooked for longest, scientists recorded 1,052 microgrammes of acrylamide per kilogramme - 50 times higher than in the batch with the lowest levels of the chemical.

In roast potatoes, the FSA recorded 490 micro grammes of acrylamide per kg in the crispiest and most cooked batch - 80 times higher than the levels contained in the palest batch of roast potatoes cooked.

The same was true of toast. The palest, least cooked toast contained just 9 microgrammes per kg while the crispiest toast contained 167 microgrammes - almost 19 times more.

Is there something about charring that creates the toxin?

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