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    Can eating burned toast increase your cancer risk?

    Now that the US Food and Drug Administration has banned trans fats, the agency is focusing its sights on getting another dangerous substance out of our food. It’s called acrylamide, a chemical that has been recognized as a potentially cancer-causing substance for quite some time.

    Acrylamide can form in some foods when they are fried or baked. These foods include potatoes, cereals, coffee, crackers, breads, and dried fruits, according to the FDA. Acrylamide is estimated to be found in 40 percent of the calories consumed in the average American diet, and high levels have been shown to cause cancer in animals.

    Earlier this month, the FDA issued a draft set of recommendations to food manufacturers that suggests ways to reduce the level of acrylamide in their products. For example, potato chip makers should avoid using russet potatoes for frying because they have high levels of “reducing sugars” that convert into acrylamide during frying.


    The agency also advised consumers to avoid crisping or burning sliced potatoes and to toast bread and bagels to a light brown rather than dark brown color. Potatoes should be stored in a dark pantry — rather than the refrigerator — to reduce the amount of acrylamide formed during cooking. D.K.