Credit: The Food Pornographer

Cooking of starch-loaded foods such as potatoes a high temperatures releases a chemical called acrylamide - has been proven to cause cancer, the World Health Organization (WHO) reports.

Acrylamide was discovered in foods by Swedish scientists in 2002.

Other foods that have been confirmed to carry the cancer-causing chemical, acrylamide include, roasted and fried potatoes, potato crisps, biscuits and toasted bread, coffee and cereal-based products.

The chemical, which is formed mainly in starchy foods from a reaction of asparagine - an amino acid - with glucose and fructose mainly (or other reducing sugars) during high temperature cooking that reaches 120 degrees in Celsius.

After conducting laboratory tests using animals this year, the United Nations expert committee and a joint WHO agreed that acrylamide did trigger cancer in the animals.

The Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) too has analyzed the new information and agrees with the conclusions, informed a FSANZ spokeswoman.

According to FSANZ, there is a need for in-depth study into the health consequences of acrylamide in food.

The FSANZ has been working with industry to reduce the levels of acrylamide in food, said the spokeswoman for FSANZ.

As part of the Australian Total Diet Study to assess the level of acrylamide in food, the FSANZ will be testing a range of products.

Based on the 2004 assessment of 100 carbohydrate-rich foods - that estimated an average daily exposure to acrylamide of 0.5 micrograms per kg of Australians bodyweight - the follow up study next year will be using the original foods as comparison.

In an effort to reduce the amount of the cancer-causing ingredient while cooking, there are several methods that can be used. Potatoes should be cut into thicker slices to increase the surface area, and to cut down sugars in the potatoes, it is advised to wash, blanch and or par-boil them prior to frying.