Today, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) launched a “Go for Gold” campaign aimed at helping consumers to understand how they can minimize exposure to acrylamide when cooking at home. Exposure to acrylamide--a naturally occurring byproduct of the cooking process often found in coffee, chocolate, potatoes, bread, cereal and even some fruits and vegetables--is said to be a possible carcinogen.

The acrylamide chemical is produced when foods are cooked for long periods of time at high temperatures--typically via frying, toasting, baking, grilling and roasting. To bring awareness to this issue, has partnered with Olympic gold medallist Denise Lewis--a track and field athlete--to educate consumers how to make small changes in the way they cook, thus minimizing their exposure to acrylamide at home.

  • Go for Gold – as a general rule of thumb, aim for a golden yellow color or lighter when frying, baking, toasting or roasting starchy foods like potatoes, root vegetables and bread.
  • Check the pack – follow the cooking instructions carefully when frying or oven-heating packaged food products such as chips, roast potatoes and parsnips. The on-pack instructions are designed to cook the product correctly. This ensures that you aren’t cooking starchy foods for too long or at temperatures which are too high.
  • Eat a varied and balanced diet – while we can’t completely avoid risks like acrylamide in food, eating a healthy, balanced diet that includes basing meals on starchy carbohydrates and getting your 5 A Day will help reduce your risk of cancer.
  • Don't keep raw potatoes in the fridge - if you intend to roast or fry them. Storing raw potatoes in the fridge can increase overall acrylamide levels. Raw potatoes should ideally be stored in a dark, cool place at temperatures above 6°C.

FSA’s “Go for Gold” campaign is based on findings from the agency’s Total Diet Study that was also published today. The results confirm that people in the UK currently consume higher levels of acrylamide than is desirable.

“Our research indicates that the majority of people are not aware that acrylamide exists, or that they might be able to reduce their personal intake. We want our 'Go for Gold' campaign to highlight the issue so that consumers know how to make the small changes that may reduce their acrylamide consumption whilst still eating plenty of starchy carbohydrates and vegetables as recommended in government healthy eating advice.” says Steve Wearne, director of policy at FSA.

“Although there is more to know about the true extent of the acrylamide risk, there is an important job for government, industry and others to do to help reduce acrylamide intake. This campaign is part of the FSA's wider work to reduce the level of acrylamide that people consume.”

“The FSA is continuing to work closely with the food industry to reduce acrylamide in the food you buy, including the development of practical tools like an industry toolkit and codes of practice which will be embedded throughout the food chain.”

Learn more about FSA's Total Diet Study.

More on acrylamide in food:
How Safe are Snack Foods?
EFSA: Frying, Baking and Roasting Increases Risk of Acrylamide Exposure and Cancer