A British agency has launched a public-awareness campaign about the health risks of overdone toast and roast potatoes, and the possible carcinogen in these types of food.

The carcinogen in question is acrylamide, a chemical produced by over-cooking starchy food, and has been shown to be linked to cancer in some studies. Acrylamide is produced when certain starchy foods are cooked at hight temperatures for prolonged periods. However, the science around acrylamide as a carcinogen in humans is far from conclusive.

Health Canada has been aware of acrylamide as a potential carcinogen since around 2009, and has offered advice to Canadians on how to reduce consumption of starchy carbohydrates, and even approved a food additive to reduce levels of acrylamide.

Britain’s Food Standards Agency is urging people to aim for a “golden yellow colour or lighter” when frying, baking, toasting or roasting starchy products like potatoes, root vegetables and bread.

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