I don’t know about you, but I had always loved my toast well done. Of course, I don’t eat toast anymore, but that is another matter. Golden brown or even slightly burnt was great. As kids, sitting around the fireplace in our hometown, we would burn our toast every afternoon, all through winter. Slap on a load of butter and we were good to go. If I had paid more attention in my chemistry class, I would have learnt about something called acrylamide. Acrylamide, what?

Well it turns out that A. is a natural chemical that forms when starchy foods are cooked over a long period of time at high temperatures. Many foods contains an amino acid called asparagine. Starchy foods seem to have a higher concentration of this. When heated at high temperature, asparagine can turn into the chemical acrylamide.

Potato, Potato Chips, or bread, when baked, roasted, toasted, grilled or burnt at over 248 Degrees Fahrenheit, form the chemical acrylamide. Studies on rats and other lab animals have shown this to be a carcinogen. A carcinogen is any material that can lead to cancer in the long run. Currently, there is no clear evidence that links this chemical to cancer in human beings. This is however, more a function of a lack of research than evidence to the contrary. High levels of A. are also an outcome of smoke inhalation from cigarettes. The reference tolerance for inhalation or consumption of A. is 0.002 milligrams per KG of body weight. Of course, any sane person would try and avoid it altogether.

You will probably hate me for saying this, but the wonderful potato chip has been indicated as a high risk source of Acrylamide. This is because of the manner in which most conventional potato chips are cooked.

How do you like your toast done?