Bread, chips and potatoes should be cooked to a golden yellow colour, rather than brown, to reduce our intake of a chemical which could cause cancer, UK scientists revealed.
The Food Standards Agency (FSA) said people are consuming too much acrylamide, a chemical produced naturally as a result of cooking starchy foods at high temperatures.
Acrylamide has been shown to cause cancer in animals and while it has not been conclusively produced to have the same effect in humans, the scientific consensus is that it is likely to do so.
FSA director of policy Steve Wearne said: “You can’t point to individual people and say that person has cancer because of the amount of acrylamide in their diet but because the mechanisms by which it does have this effect in animals are similar to the mechanisms you would expect to occur in humans it’s not something we can ignore.”
“We’re not saying avoid particular foods or groups of foods but vary your diet so you smooth out your risk. We are not saying to people to worry about the occasional piece of food or meal that’s overcooked. This is about managing risk across your lifetime.”
The warning relates to foods that are high in starch, with potatoes, including sweet potatoes, the biggest staple affected.
But it also covers other root vegetables, crackers, cereals, including cereal-based baby food, bread, biscuits and coffee, the FSA said.
There are no regulatory maximum limits for acrylamide in food.
In 2016 plans for a legal limit were dropped by the European commission days after lobbying by industry.