Air fryers produce cancer-causing chemicals, watchdog warns

Local | 17 Feb 2021 1:06 pm

Some air fryers available in Hong Kong produce cancer-causing chemicals, which in some instances exceeded European Union safety levels, the consumer watchdog has warned after testing 12 models.

Tests were done to determine the acrylamide content of air-fried frozen thin French fries, the Consumer Council, said.

Acrylamide is a toxic and potentially carcinogenic chemical.  It is an odourless, white, crystalline organic solid with melting point of 84-86° degrees Celsius.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer had already classified acrylamide as “probably carcinogenic to humans” (Group 2A) and recommended minimal intake.

All models were found to contain acrylamide at levels ranging from 102mg/kg to 7038mg/kg, a staggering difference of 68 times, among which six models contained acrylamide above the European Union benchmark level (500mg/kg).

In a repeat test using the model with the highest level of acrylamide by reducing the cooking time or lowering the cooking temperature, the results showed that the acrylamide content of the French fries significantly dropped to a level that is within the EU benchmark level.

Tests also found that six tested models posed various safety hazards and risks, including excessive rise in temperature in some parts, insufficient insulation distance, inadequate earthing terminal, and so on.

The cooking performance on air-frying different foods varied significantly among test models, in particular French fries, with instances of undercooking or uneven heat distribution, the council said.

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