Heatox: Guidelines to authorities and consumer organisations on home cooking

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HEATOX: Guidelines to authorities and consumer organisations on home cooking

Project acronym: HEATOX
Duration: Nov 2003 - Feb 2007
Funded by: DG Research (FP6)
Website: Not available

Project name: Heat-generated food toxicants:identification, characterisation and risk minimisation (HEATOX)

Sub title regarding the application described : Guidelines to authorities and consumer organisations on home cooking

Contacts: Professor Kerstin Skog, Division of Applied Nutrition and Food Chemistry, Faculty of Engineering, Lund University, Sweden; Heatox@inl.lth.se;

1. Context and problematic

Modern science has showed that heating food can generate various kinds of potentially hazardous compounds, for example acrylamide. Some of these compounds can damage the human genetic material or can cause cancer.

Intake from Home Cooking

Acrylamide formation and minimisation strategies have been quite extensively studied in the laboratory and in industrial environments where the processing/heating conditions are better controlled than in home cooking. HEATOX researchers have conducted a number of experiments related to deep-fried French fries, crisps, oven roasted potato wedges and toasted bread. The general intake of acrylamide for adults is quite similar across Europe. Due to the fact that a large number of foods contributing to acrylamide intake are industrially produced the contribution from home cooking is probably quite small in the general population. Exposure from home cooking comes primarily from potato products with some addition of toasted and homemade bread. Home cooking, especially potato products, can generate a very large and almost unpredictable variation even for the same product and for the same cook, which makes it difficult to predict the real intake from home cooked foods. Individuals with a high consumption and preference for specific hard fried foods might constitute high exposure risk groups.

2. Results and Applications

The HEATOX Guidelines to authorities and consumer organisations on home cooking conclude by given advices both related to home cooking practices and to consumption.


The HEATOX advice is aimed as a tool for National Authorities and Consumer organisations for handling the acrylamide issue in relation to home-cooking. This might include giving cooking advice directly to consumers as well as influencing providers of raw materials, pre-fried products and frying equipment for domestic use.

Home cooking

National authorities should highlight the following:

Potatoes low in sugar

• Low sugar potato varieties

• Maintenance of suitable storage temperature during the supply chain

• Low sugar levels in prefabricated potato products for domestic frying.

Best frying temperature

• Frying temperature in the range 145 to 170°C for deep frying potatoes.

• Clear and accurate cooking instruction on the package of pre-fried products.

• Clear and accurate instruction for fryers for domestic use.

Golden, not brown!

• French fries and roast potatoes cooked to a golden yellow rather than golden-brown colour.

• Bread toasted to the lightest colour acceptable.


Balance the diet as proposed in national dietary recommendations and integrate acrylamide considerations into the “normal” dietary recommendations.

3. Novelties, benefits and added value

The HEATOX Workshop in Graz 2006 identified significant differences in home cooking methods and availability of ingredients within countries and certainly across the different European regions and member states. The national differences in dietary habits and cooking practices, as well as the different availability of ingredients, need to be taken into account by national authorities and consumer organisations when developing material like brochures, web pages, and presentations for consumers.

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