Cancer, burnt toast and roast potatoes


I should think the entire western world is now afraid to eat their roast potatoes.  This comes after the international media coverage  of the UK Food Standards Agency’s new campaign “"Go for Gold” , [@CABI_Health 23rd Jan ], which hopes to encourage us (UK) to reduce acrylamide in our diet by cooking starchy foods to a pale golden colour and no further.

Speaking as someone who spent nearly 20 years in labs handling acrylamide on a daily basis (for analysing proteins), I can’t say I am too worried about the acrylamide content of my Sunday lunch roast potatoes  and burning my toast.

But what about the general public? Should they be nervous…so what is behind the UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) campaign?

It’s their recently published Total diet study of inorganic contaminants, acrylamide & mycotoxins (TDS-2014), covering years 2014 and 2015 for the UK, and how the results fit with European Food Safety Agency (EFSA) recommendations.

A total diet study differs from other food surveys in that foods are firstly prepared and cooked for consumption. The aim of TDS-2014 was to estimate dietary exposure to contaminants for population age groups: it assessed 138 food categories, and for each category pooled food items collected from 24 UK towns.

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Horse in burgers and the long tradition of adulterating food.

We don’t know yet how the horse DNA recently found in cheap
burgers supplied by several supermarkets in the UK got there, whether by
accident or deliberately but debasing or adulterating food by using something cheaper
to bulk it out it is an ancient tradition. The incentive is great. A trader or
producer who does this and gets away with it makes a profit. Recent high
profile cases that were prosecuted include the case where melamine was discovered in milk in China in 2007. At least in the
horse DNA case there is not a food safety concern as horse is deemed edible while melamine is definitely not.

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