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Acrylamide and Processed Potatoes

November 2018

By Paul C. Bethke, Ph.D.
Plant Physiologist
Vegetable Crops Research Unit
USDA-Agricultural Research Service
Department of Horticulture
University of Wisconsin
Madison, Wisconsin
Phone: 608-890-1165

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Summary: Acrylamide, a suspected human carcinogen, is formed when carbohydrate-rich foods are cooked at high temperatures. Processed potato products, including french fries and potato chips, make a substantial contribution to total dietary acrylamide. Health safety concerns raised by acrylamide in food increase financial risks to the potato industry and have encouraged industry to take a proactive response toward acrylamide mitigation. This presentation will provide growers, potato storage managers, crop consultants, and individuals in the potato processing industry with the information needed to understand how acrylamide is formed, why potato products are relatively high in acrylamide, and what mitigation approaches the potato industry can use to reduce the amount of acrylamide in processed potato products. Maintenance of low concentrations of potato reducing sugars in raw product is emphasized as an effective acrylamide mitigation measure that is applicable to all processed potato products.

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