Bad news for people who like their starches extra crispy. The UK's Food Standards Agency recently released a report outlining the dangers of acrylamide, a chemical produced "when many foods, particularly starchy foods like potatoes and bread, are cooked for long periods at high temperatures." Basically it occurs when you bake, fry, grill, or toast many of your favorite foods for too long.
Basically, when fries, toast, potato chips, or sweet potatoes get overcooked or burnt, acrylamide -- a "probable carcinogen" also found in cigarette smoke -- is created as a byproduct. It is shown to possibly contribute to kidney, ovarian, and endometrial cancers.
The FSA has some advice on avoiding acrylamide for interested parties:
- While baking and frying starches, aim for a golden-yellow color (to avoid burning).
- Read the directions when cooking store-bought products, so you don't overcook (duh).
- Don't keep raw potatoes in the fridge, as this will increase overall acrylamide levels. Store them in a dark, cool place -- just not a freezing place.
As with any study, there are conflicting reports that claim the acrylamide scare may be nothing more than an overreaction to misinformation.
But if you want to err on the side of safety, it may be worth it to skip those extra-, extra-crispy waffle fries. To be honest, they aren't as good, anyway.