Sunday, April 15, 2018


On April 11, the COMMISSION REGULATION (EU) 2017/2158 of 20 November 2017 establishing mitigation measures and benchmark levels for the reduction of the presence of acrylamide in food came into force in the European Union. It was shown that this chemical product causes cancer in rats.

Fact is that frying, grilling, roasting, and baking will produce cancer-causing acrylamide in coffee, fries, bread, but also in Christmas cookies like Honiglebkuchen (honey gingerbread), Mandelplätzchen (almond cookies), and Zimtsterne (cinnamon stars).

Acrylamide, as Wikipedia knows, is the result of “strong heating of starchy foods produced in a reaction between asparagine and reducing sugars (fructose, glucose, etc.) or reactive carbonyls at temperatures above 120 °C (248 °F).”

So far so bad. Remember how much potato chips, French fries and Bratkartoffeln, Brägele, or Rösti (home fried potatoes), as well as bread, toast, crispbread, and coffee we consume daily. In particular young people should avoid food containing acrylamide; but I still see toddlers in Freiburg’s streets munching their crisp, brown. tasty pretzels instead of bleached, healthy, sugarless baby biscuits. But there is hope.

At home, gild toast and bakery rolls, do not char. All bakery should not be dark brown, but golden yellow. Do not fry French fries at 180 °C, but at 175 °C. Even better would be much lower temperatures for as in any chemical reaction the rate of the “roasting and taste-giving” Maillard reaction increases exponentially with the absolute temperature °K (degree Kelvin). But who likes to eat food with no taste? A medical doctor once told me that it is nothing but the taste that counts for his obese clients. He, skinny as a rake and a chain smoker, eventually died of lung cancer.

Here are two examples of bad and not so bad food.

French fries and pulled pork for dinner in New York ...

... and french fries for breakfast in London. The chips in New York were tastier.

Potato fritters (Reibekuchen) in Cologne. Here with applesauce ...

... and here with pumpernickel and butter. The person frying the Reibekuchen below was apparently distracted by an interesting and long telephone conversation.

In the end, I have some good news for coffee lovers. Roasted Arabica coffee beans tend to contain lower acrylamide levels than roasted Robusta beans. Enjoy your espresso!

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