No one eats french fries because they’re healthy, but did you know that they contain a cancer-causing chemical called acrylamide? The product naturally forms during the cooking of french fries, potato chips, and other starchy foods. Now scientists at Ghent University say that they have figured out a way to cut down on acrylamide production on a mass scale.

french fries, acrylamide, starch, food production, mcdonalds, green design, sustainable design, green design, sustainable foodPhoto by Suhakri Hsu

The researchers successfully tested two acrylamide reduction strategies. The first involves evaluating potato batches that are susceptible to producing the byproduct — a process that requires measuring the sugar content of the potato tuber. Once susceptible batches are uncovered, the potato processing industry could ditch the guilty potatoes.

The second process requires companies to pre-treat chilled french fries with the enzyme asparaginase. Treated fries don’t contain any acrylamide, and still have comparable taste and shelf life to non-treated products.

Both of these processes require compliance from the french fry production industry, and that could take years. But in the meantime, here’s a helpful hint: prolonged frying creates darker fries with a higher acrylamide content. That means the healthiest french fries are a golden-yellow color–something to keep in mind on your next trip to McDonald’s.

+ Ghent University

Via Science Daily