French fries – Friend or foe?

That strip of golden goodness, that salty and crisp fried chip of a potato that makes burgers better, steaks superb and, generally, a meal magnificent. That’s what many of us think and feel about the French fry, frites or Belgian frieten, writes Andre Erasmus. But is it so, particularly the ’golden goodness’ part? Not according to the European Union and many food scientists. Acrylamide, says the EU, is ‘a carcinogenic substance that forms from naturally present free asparagine (amino acid) and sugars during high temperature processing, such as frying, particularly in potato-based products’. And this, obviously, would be bad news for the global potato industry, affecting both growers and processors. This follows some research in 2002 which showed a disposition towards cancer after consuming fried potato products. But Emma Shields, at charity Cancer Research UK, says: “Although evidence from animal studies has shown that acrylamide in food could be linked to cancer, this link isn’t clear and consistent in humans.” More