British government food agency launches campaign against burnt toast

Posted by Andrea Hogan on 30th January 2017

Burnt toast might be doing worse things to you than ruining the taste of your breakfast says a British government food agency.

The UK’s Food Standards Agency has launched, Go for Gold, a campaign warning of the possible carcinogenic effects of burnt foods.

The campaign aims to educate the public about acrylamide, the chemical created when many foods are cooked for long periods at high temperatures. According to the Food Standards Agency, the scientific consensus is that acrylamide has the potential to cause cancer in humans.

Acrylamide particularly occurs in starchy foods, like bread and potatoes, when they are cooked for long periods at high temperatures. The campaign warns that when cooking these types of foods a golden yellow, or lighter colour should be achieved.

The public is also advised to follow cooking instructions correctly, eat a balanced diet and to not keep raw potatoes in the fridge as this will increase their acrylamide levels.

Most do not know about acrylamide

Steve Wearne, Director of Policy at the Food Standards Agency, said that the agency’s research showed most did not know about acrylamide or that they can decrease their intake of it.

“We want our ‘Go for Gold’ campaign to highlight the issue so that consumers know how to make the small changes that may reduce their acrylamide consumption whilst still eating plenty of starchy carbohydrates and vegetables as recommended in government healthy eating advice,” he said.

Wearne said although there is more to know about the true extent of acrylamide risk, work needs to be done to reduce its intake.

“The FSA is continuing to work closely with the food industry to reduce acrylamide in the food you buy, including the development of practical tools like an industry toolkit and codes of practice which will be embedded throughout the food chain,” Wearne said.

FSANZ’s stance on acrylamide in food

According to Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ), there is no direct evidence that acrylamide can cause cancer in humans, although FSANZ says there is evidence it can cause cancer in laboratory animals.

FSANZ states it therefore believes it is prudent to reduce our exposure to acrylamide in food.

On FSANZ’s website there is also a list of advice on how to consume less acrylamide, along with an explanation on what it is doing to help reduce acrylamide in food. This includes encouraging and supporting industry to use enzymes that reduce acrylamide formation.

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