FDA: Say “No” to crispy fries

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration continues to be the tastes-good-but-is-bad-for-you food buzzkill.

This week, the FDA is reminding people to cut down the extra crispy French fries and certain other fried foods, but not just because of their fat content.

The FDA wants people to cut down on the amount of a chemical called acrylamide that they eat. That’s because high levels of acrylamide have been found to cause cancer in animals, which leads scientist to believe it’s likely to cause cancer in humans as well.

Acrylamide is a chemical that can form in some foods (mainly plant-based foods) during high-temperature cooking processes like frying or baking. That includes potatoes, cereals, coffee, crackers, breads and dried fruits, according to the FDA.

Boiling and steaming foods do not typically form acrylamide, according to the FDA.

The FDA first discovered acrylamide in food in 2002. According to the Grocery Manufacturers Association, acrylamide is found in 40 percent of the calories consumed in the average American diet.

Both the World Health Organization and the Food and Agriculture Organization call the levels of acrylamide in foods a “major concern” and call for more research, according to a Today article.

“There’s no reason to panic,” said Today diet and health editor Madelyn Fernstrom, who says that every few years concerns about acrylamide seem to bubble to the surface. “Long-term studies need to be made, but in the meantime, just do your best to lower it. And, mostly, that’s going to be cutting down on fried foods. There’s a lot of reasons to cut back on fried foods, and this is one more.”

The FDA offers these tips for cutting down on the amount of acrylamide in your diet:

-If frying frozen fries, follow manufacturer recommendations on time and temperature and avoid overcooking, heavy crisping or burning. Cook to a golden yellow color rather than brown.

-Toast bread to a light brown color rather than a dark brown color. Avoid very dark areas.

-Do not store potatoes in the refrigerator, which can increase acrylamide during cooking. Keep them in a dark, cool place, such as a closet or pantry.

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