Healthier crisps in the future?

Chips contain acrylamide, a chemical that forms when starchy foods, such as potatoes and bread, are cooked at high temperatures

There’s good news for snack lovers, because chips could be getting healthier.

Potato chips contain acrylamide, a chemical that forms when starchy foods, such as potatoes and bread, are cooked at high temperatures.

There’s some evidence from animal studies that acrylamide is linked to cancer, making people more concerned about their baked potatoes, burnt toast and bags of chips, though experts are divided on whether the compound can cause cancer in humans.

But now researchers may have discovered how to reduce the amount of acrylamide formed when frying potatoes to make potato chips.

According to the Norwegian research institute SINTEF, less ripe potatoes contain more sugar, which can be converted into acrylamide.

Chips contain acrylamide, a chemical that forms when starchy foods, such as potatoes and bread, are cooked at high temperatures

It follows similar work in the UK, where Rothamsted Research scientists have gone further in using gene editing to develop a strain of wheat that is less likely to produce acrylamide when toasted in bread.

When it comes to chips, the Norwegian researchers found that measuring the levels of sucrose and aspartic acid in potatoes gave the best indication of the amount of acrylamide they would produce when fried to make chips.

But dr. Erlend Inderg?rd, from SINTEF, said: ‘This method is slow and requires the use of expensive instruments.

Acrylamide: everything you need to know

Acrylamide is considered so toxic that only 0.1 microgram per liter is allowed in drinking water, 100 times less than the allowed amount of arsenic.

This is to protect consumers from acrylamides used in industry (where it is used to make dyes and plastics).

The chemical is not intentionally added to foods.

Instead, it is produced when carbohydrate-laden foods that naturally contain an amino acid called asparagine are heated above 120c, such as in baking, barbecuing, frying, grilling, broiling, or roasting.

Chips and crisps have been found to contain high levels of acrylamide; pizza, toast and cookies are also on the hazard list.

The World Health Organization has said that the levels of acrylamide in food are a ‘major concern’.

But unlike with water, there is no legal maximum.

Acrylamide has not yet been proven to be carcinogenic in humans, despite some studies suggesting it is in animals.

“We’ve found that measuring glucose levels with a blood sugar meter that anyone can buy at their local pharmacy is a faster and more accessible way to get an indication of whether a potato’s sugar level is too high.”

According to the experts, potatoes must also be stored at the right temperature.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) recommends that people reduce their consumption of acrylamide when preparing food at home by aiming for a golden yellow color or lighter when frying, baking, roasting or roasting starchy foods, and by following the instructions on following the packaging when cooking packaged foods such as chips and baked potatoes.

Mark Willis, head of chemical contaminants at the FSA, said: ‘We welcome the development and use of good practices by companies to manage acrylamide, including the sourcing of ingredients and appropriate storage.’

Dr. Claire Knight, senior health information manager for Cancer Research UK, said: ‘There is no good evidence that eating foods high in acrylamide, such as crisps, toast or charred root vegetables, increases the risk of cancer.

However, some foods containing acrylamide are high in calories, and being overweight or obese increases the risk of 13 types of cancer.

“Your overall diet is more important than individual foods in reducing cancer risk.”

Dr. Duane Mellor, a registered dietitian and senior lecturer at Aston University, said: ‘While it is good to reduce the acrylamide levels in crisps as it is a known carcinogen, removing it will not make the crisps healthy as they are still high in fat and probably salty, and low in fiber and vitamins.’

In 2017, research from the Changing Markets Foundation reported, which assessed 92 potato snacks from major UK snack brands and supermarket own-brand crisps

high levels of acrylamide in 17 percent of the samples.

Nusa Urbancic, director of campaigns at the Changing Markets Foundation, which supports sustainable products, said: “While we welcome such innovations in reducing acrylamide levels, it is important to emphasize that the food industry is well aware of this issue and also of the solutions for more than two decades.?

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