Are we toast if we eat toast?
The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has issued a warning that starchy foods, when overcooked, can contain acrylamide, a chemical that has been linked to cancer.
According to the FSA, eating toast that has been burnt or over-cooked potatoes could increase the potential risk of cancer. Through a new public health campaign, people are being advised to cook potatoes, toast and other starchy foods only until they are lightly browned.
When does toast become dangerous?
When heated together at high temperatures the water, amino acids and sugars in food go through a process known as the Maillard reaction to form acrylamide, with the longer the heating time, and the higher the heat resulting in higher levels of acrylamide. Some animal studies have shown that acrylamide can affect the DNA within cells resulting in cellular damage that can lead to cancer. However, in human studies the link is less clear and less consistent.
What to do
The FSA advises that to avoid exposure to acrylamide we should eat foods a little less browned and for starchy foods like potatoes should be kept somewhere cool and dark but not refrigerated as this increases levels of sugars involved in the Maillard reaction.