New Potato Varieties Produce French Fries with Lower Acrylamide Levels
Fries made with new potato varieties AF4296-3 and Easton have much lower levels of probable carcinogen than those made with the popular Russet Burbank variety, according to University of Maine’s professor of food science and human nutrition Mary Ellen Camire who conducted a study on the matter.
The probable carcinogen referred to above is acrylamide, a chemical that forms during the frying process from sugars and amino acids that potatoes contain naturally.
“Acrylamide is found in many foods that are baked, roasted or fried, but since frying is the most popular of cooking potatoes, we wanted consumers to have a safer alternative developed by traditional breeding practices,” the researcher says.
The new varieties tend to brown less during frying than do common potatoes, resulting in lighter‐colored and less golden‐colored French fries. Camire notes that they still retain their crispy texture, familiar flavor and smell of freshly cooked French fries. Even so, consumer education may be needed to counteract potential consumer rejection of these fries with information about the lower acrylamide content and increased safety of these foods.
The study was conducted as part of a U.S. Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture award of USD7.87m to a consortium that included the University of Wisconsin, UMaine and other universities, federal laboratories and potato processors.
Camire noted that the next goal is to examine how well a national sample of consumers will accept these new potato varieties.
“It took years to convince consumers to switch from whole milk to low-fat or skim milk. Hopefully changing consumer acceptance of these fries will not take as long,” she adds.
The full findings of the study were published in the Journal of Food Science under the title “Low-Acrylamide French Fry Acceptance: A Pilot study” in December 2019.