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Guidance for hospitality after news of ‘burnt toast cancer risk'

23 January 2017 by
Guidance for hospitality after news of ‘burnt toast cancer risk'

Eating burnt toast will not make your customers' hair curl, but may give them a predisposition to developing cancer, a new Food Standards Agency (FSA) campaign warns.

Hospitality trade bodies have issued guidance to members about reducing the risk from acrylamide produced through overcooking starchy foods.

The FSA's Go For Gold campaign launched this week to help consumers reduce acrylamide levels. Acrylamide is a chemical naturally produced in high starch food, such as bread, pizza, potatoes and other root vegetables, as a result of roasting, toasting, baking or frying at high temperatures.

The campaign, which has received widespread media attention, aims to raise public awareness of best practice on how to reduce acrylamide such as aiming for a golden yellow colour or lighter when cooking the carbs.

The British Hospitality Association (BHA) Food Safety Expert, Dr Lisa Ackerley said: "The BHA welcomes FSA's campaign to promote public awareness and reduce intake. Consumers and businesses alike can benefit from this. There are a number of ways businesses can reduce acrylamide through storage and cooking procedures and our simple tips are: where possible buy low starch potatoes if they are to be used for frying or roasting (rather than boiling and mashing); cook foods such as toast, bread, biscuits, chips and roast potatoes to light rather than dark colours, always follow manufacturers' cooking instructions; fry foods at lower temperatures; decrease the cooking time when possible; blanch potatoes before frying them; avoid overheating oils and fats; change oils and fats frequently; don't store potatoes in the fridge and avoid bruised potatoes.

The Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) has produced a detailed brief for its members providing information on the FSA campaign and guidance on reducing any acrylamide risks.

ALMR chief executive Kate Nicholls said: "Retailers should not be unduly worried. Provisions for hospitality venues have been in place for some time now regarding burnt food and most venues will be briefed and aware of any risks. Although this is primarily an at home issue, the ALMR has been liaising with the government to promote the work already being carried out by the sector. The [FSA] campaign has been driven by European legislation and the ALMR has also been engaged at that level to provide guidance for the sector."

The BHA is working with the FSA, FSS and other industry stakeholders to create the BHA Catering Industry Guide to Acrylamide Reduction.
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