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Sunday, November 17, 2013

USFDA Recommends to Cut Down Acrylamide in Food

Posted by Prahallad Panda on 8:13 PM Comments

Acrylamide (C3H3ONH2) is a chemical that is produced naturally in certain foods when they are cooked at high temperatures. It is known to cause cancer in animals and, in high doses,can cause nerve damage in humans.
Asparagine is an amino acid (a building block of proteins) that is found in many vegetables, with higher concentrations in some varieties of potatoes. When heated to high temperatures in the presence of certain sugars, asparagine can form acrylamide.

A cast iron chip pan with an aluminium basket ...
A cast iron chip pan with an aluminium basket being used to fry chips. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
High-temperature cooking methods, such as frying, baking, or broiling, have been found to produce acrylamide; boiling and microwaving appear less likely to do so. Longer cooking times can also increase acrylamide production when the cooking temperature is above 120 degrees Celsius.

Given the widespread presence of acrylamide in foods, it may not be feasible to completely eliminate acrylamide from one's diet.
But, whatever possible to prevent acrylamide formation may be practised.
  • Frying, baking, roasting and broiling are the methods that create the most acrylamide; while boiling, steaming, and microwaving appear to generate less. Frying leads to highest acrylamide formation followed by roasting, then by baking.
  • According to Cancer.gov, 248°F (120°C) seems to be the magic temperature, above which more acrylamide forms. On the contrary, foods heated to below 248°F or less do not seem to contain the chemical.
  • Plant foods such as potatoes, grain products (breads and breakfast cereals, cookies), and coffee are mentioned in the FDA release. Various forms of these foods are typically fried, baked or roasted. They do point out that acrylamide is not typically found in raw plant-based foods, dairy, animal foods (poultry, meat) or seafood.
  • The FDA discusses specific foods that are larger sources of acrylamide: French fries, potato chips, breakfast cereals, cookies, toast, and coffee.
  • The darker the potato, the more acrylamide — so avoid cooking until dark brown. It has been found that slicing potatoes and soaking them for 30 minutes before frying or roasting reduces acrylamide formation.
  • Don't store potatoes in the refrigerator, because this can increase acrylamide levels during cooking. Keep potatoes outside the refrigerator in a dark, cool place, such as a closet or a pantry.
  • For bread, if you toast it, toast to a light brown color and avoid "very brown areas." Don’t eat burnt toast, since the darker the toast, the more acrylamide has formed. “Toast bread to a light brown color rather than a dark brown color. Avoid very brown areas,” advises the FDA.
  • For coffee, the FDA scientists have not found good ways to reduce acrylamide formation since the beans are roasted before brewing. Try to have lighter roast coffee.
  • One need to choose less processed cereals and that can be cooked more often. “If frying frozen fries,” says the FDA, “follow manufacturers’ recommendations on time and temperature and avoid overcooking, heavy crisping or burning.
  • Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat milk products.
  • Include lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs and nuts.
  • Choose foods low in saturated fats, trans fat (which both raises your bad LDL cholesterol and lowers your good HDL cholesterol and is linked to heart attacks), cholesterol, salt and added sugars.
FDA consumers update on acrylamide can be accessed here.
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