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Health Check: Burnt toast, potatoes linked to cancer risk?

LYNCHBURG, Va (WSET) - A new warning is now out about two foods a lot of us eat every day -- possibly linked to cancer.

The offenders are burnt toast and over-roasted potatoes.

A lot of times you may just scrape off that black layer when you burn toast, or serve an over-roasted potato at dinner, but the Foods and Standards Agency in the UK says no!

They just came out with a new warning about the cancer risks linked to eating burnt toast, over-roasted potatoes and other starchy foods cooked at high temps.

Studies on mice identified high levels of a compound called acrylamide in these foods. It's what makes bread and potatoes turn golden when cooked.

High levels of acrylamide have been shown to cause cancer in mice.

But Centra dietitian Stacey Evans -- who works with cancer patients -- said this doesn’t mean you can never eat these burnt foods.

"Most people don't consume a lot of charred, grilled, burned foods in their lifetime that it should be a concern. The biggest focus is to make sure you are eating a well-balanced diet,” Evans explained. “And that you are limiting your simple sugary carbs and the processed meats and other things that are more carcinogenic and harmful than just burnt toast and potatoes."

To avoid exposure, follow these rules of thumb. Aim for a yellow or golden brown color when cooking. Avoid keeping potatoes in the fridge before cooking them, as this can further increase acrylamide levels.

These studies date back to 2001, but the Food Standards Agency is bringing the information to the forefront again because they think a lot of you still don't know about the risk.

It’s food for thought when you're in the kitchen tonight.

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