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Soaking Potatoes Before Frying Cuts Suspected Carcinogen

Findings show even a simple washing reduces acrylamide levels by up to 23%

THURSDAY, March 6 (HealthDay News) -- Soaking potatoes in water before frying cuts down on the formation of the suspected carcinogen acrylamide, says a a new, British study.

Acrylamide is created when starch-rich foods are cooked at high temperatures, such as frying, baking, grilling or roasting, according to background information in the study. Some research has suggested that acrylamide, which is found in a wide range of foods, may be harmful to health and may cause cancer in animals.

In this study, researchers found that simply soaking potatoes before frying can significantly reduce the formation of acrylamide and any health risks it may pose.

The researchers tried three different approaches. They washed raw French fries, soaked them for 30 minutes, and soaked them for two hours. This reduced acrylamide levels by up to 23 percent, 38 percent and 48 percent, respectively, but only if the fries were cooked to a light color.

It's not clear whether the same reductions could be achieved if French fries are cooked to a deep, dark brown, the researchers said.

The study was published in the current issue of the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture.

"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," team leader Rachel Burch, of Leatherhead Food International, said in a prepared statement.

More information

The National Cancer Institute has more about acrylamide in foods.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: Society of Chemical Industry, news release, March 6, 2008

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