For years we’ve been told to keep our potatoes in a cool, dark place and not the fridge because of concerns over acrylamide, which has been linked to cancer.
It was originally thought that storing raw potatoes in the fridge could lead to the formation of additional sugars which can then convert into acrylamide when tatties are fried, roasted or baked.
But the Food Standard Agency (FSA) updated guidance earlier this year to say this isn’t the case – and storing your potatoes in the fridge could actually dramatically reduce food waste.
Studies have found acrylamide can cause cancer in animals, and scientists believe it can cause cancer in humans as well. Therefore health bodies recommend limiting the amount of acrylamide we all consume as a precaution.
Acrylamide is a natural by-product of the cooking process and has always been present in our food. It’s typically found in roast potatoes, crisps and chips.
Previously it was believed storing potatoes in the fridge could increase the forming potential of acrylamide. But a study, which was reviewed by the Committee on the Toxicity of Chemicals in Food, Consumer Products and the Environment (COT), showed this isn’t the case.
Passionate potato advocates – including the UK’s largest potato supplier, Branston – said the change in advice from the FSA could dramatically cut down food waste.
It’s thought Brits waste over 5.8 million potatoes each year. Yet research from the Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP) has found that potatoes stored in the fridge can last more than three times as long compared with those stored in a cupboard.
Lucia Washbrook, from Branston potatoes, said the change in guidance is particularly important now given the climate emergency and rising cost of living.
“We need consumers to make changes and follow guidance such as this in order to seriously tackle food waste in the home, which will also help save them money,” she said.
Storing potatoes in the fridge should “obviously be encouraged”, said Washbrook, before adding there are other ways you can make potatoes last such as storing them in fabric or paper bags rather than plastic and making sure they are kept in the dark.
Those coming towards the end of their life can be cooked up and frozen into portions ready to use straight from the freezer, she added.
If you are worried about acrylamide in your potatoes, aim for a “golden yellow colour or lighter” when frying, baking, toasting or roasting starchy foods, advises FSA.
It’s also important to follow cooking instructions on the packs of food so you don’t over-cook them.