Is Toast Carcinogenic?
If you love toasts that come out hot from the toaster for breakfast, you may be concerned to learn that your slices of bread contain acrylamide, a substance known for its toxicity. Is toasted bread carcinogenic, as the WHO seems to suggest? We propose to clarify the issue.
"What is acrylamide?"
Acrylamide is a substance that was first isolated by scientists in 2002. It is known to be cancer-causing and neurotoxic, meaning toxic to the brain and nerves.
Medical research is very interested in this compound because it is now known to be bad for health and found in food. This toxic substance is formed more precisely in grilled foods.
According to the World Health Organization, acrylamide forms when certain starch-rich products are cooked at over 120°C. This is the case with bread but also biscuits, fries, and black coffee! This raises concerns for all those who love toast and wonder if grilled bread is carcinogenic...
Should we stop eating toasted bread?
Although acrylamide is indeed a carcinogenic and toxic substance, it is unnecessary to throw away your toaster and give up the pleasure of eating toast! For several years now, the FSA (the British Food Standards Agency) has been warning the British not to let their toast burn. However, a recent British study should reassure toast lovers. According to calculations made by a Cambridge statistician, one would have to eat 320 charred slices of bread per day to increase their cancer risk due to acrylamide. Even adults who eat the most grilled foods should not panic.
How to limit exposure to acrylamide?
You will have understood that the acrylamide contained in some of your foods will not give you cancer overnight. This toxic substance only has harmful effects in the very long term and only if you consume highly grilled foods daily such as fried foods or partially burned meat on the barbecue!
The foods that expose you the most to acrylamide are fried or sautéed potatoes and black coffee. However, be aware that the level of acrylamide in food is regularly controlled by European authorities. In case of exceeding the threshold values, manufacturers are required to review their manufacturing process.
On your side, to reduce the risk of cancer and neurotoxicity related to acrylamide, simply monitor the cooking of your toast in the toaster and, more generally, cook foods less.
Grilled bread is not carcinogenic if you consume it when it is golden and not brown in color. In case of overcooking your toast, simply remove the too dark, brown or black parts.
How to cook food well?
The EFSA, the European Food Safety Authority, insists on the importance of monitoring cooking time.
For example, toasting bread for 5 minutes instead of 3 minutes can increase the acrylamide content from 31 micrograms per kilo to 118 micrograms per kilo, depending on the toaster temperature and type of bread.
Overall, it is important to note that gentle cooking methods such as steaming and low-temperature cooking are also the healthiest.
Any cooking process oxidizes food and destroys most vitamins. That is why it is important to consume raw foods such as fruits and vegetables, which are sources of vitamin C and other nutrients.