Acrylamide is a naturally occurring chemical that is caused when starch rich foods are cooked at high temperatures, such as frying, baking, grilling or roasting.
There has been growing concern that acrylamide – found in a wide range of foods – may be harmful to health and may cause cancer in animals.
But the new research by the UK team led by Dr Rachel Burch from Leatherhead Food International found that a simple measure of pre-soaking potatoes before frying can dramatically reduce the formation of acrylamide and may therefore reduce any subsequent risk it may pose.
Dr Rachel Burch said: “There has been much research done by the food industry looking at reducing acrylamide in products but less so on foods cooked at home and we wanted to explore ways of reducing the level of acrylamide in home cooking.”
The study found that washing raw French fries, soaking them for 30 mins and soaking them for 2 hours reduced the formation of acrylamide by up to 23%, 38% and 48% respectively but only if they were fried to a lighter colour. The jury is still out on chips that are fried to a deep, dark brown.
First published in Farmnews March 5,2008