Britain’s Food Standard Agency has recently initiated a campaign regarding public health to warn citizens about the dangers that eating a burnt toast or potato (any burned food in general) can pose.
The goal of the campaign is to encourage people to limit their consumption of such kind of foods, and eat them less cooked instead of over crispy.
The result from studies conducted with animals show how a specific compound called acrylamide is connected to cancer in experiments. Acrylamide naturally occurs when starchy food is toasted, deep fried, roasted or baked. It was these results that influenced the Agency to launch this type of campaign.
This connection hasn’t been proved in humans yet, and scientists claim that there is not enough evidence to say that it poses real risk to people that consume toasted food within the normal limits.
One of the published statements from Cancer Research UK says this: looking at different studies in people, there isn’t a clear and consistent link between acrylamide and increased risk of cancer.
When sugars, water and amino acids are mixed and heated together on high temperature is when acrylamide forms. If the temperature is higher and also the heating time, so is the level of acrylamide.
The aforementioned campaign encourages consumers to have a golden yellow color as a goal, or a lighter one when frying, toasting or baking and roasting food such as potatoes, bread and root veggies.
Director of policy of the Agency stated that the research shows that most of the people are unaware that this chemical exists, or the fact that they can reduce their consumption of it. He also pointed out that the goal of the campaign is to emphasize the problem and to give the chance to consumers to know how to make the small changes that may reduce the consumption of the chemical and still eating lots of crispy carbs and veggies within normal limits. Even though there isn’t sufficient information on acrylamide, the Government has an obligation to be of help when it comes to reduction of consumption of acrylamide.
Some scientists say that all this might be unnecessary alarm and a method of pointing attention towards different direction than the real risk factors for cancer including obesity and smoking.
The website of Cancer Research UK says: The most important thing to say following today’s news is not to panic if you had burnt toast this morning or crispy potatoes with your Sunday roast.
An oncology dietitian at one famous Cancer Center agrees with these experts in the conclusion that this campaign shouldn’t scare the public and some of the facts it claims are actually misrepresented and possibly underqualified.
The doses of the chemical used in the experiments are much, much higher than the possible human intake. This leaves us to the fact that there isn’t good enough proof of harm, or human cancer for that matter.
This dietitian also says that she urges people to consume lower amount of foods that contain high doses of acrylamide, like for example chips, cakes, fries etc., but not because they are full of acrylamide, but because these are processed foods, full of hidden sugars. On the other hand there is reliable data that obesity by itself is guilty for 20% of the cancer patients in the U.S.A. This is where the focus should be.