In a nutshell: In addition to helping to eliminate pathogens and reduce biological hazards, cooking can also increase the colour and aroma of food, making it easier to digest. However, it is also possible for food to form contaminants such as acrylamide that are harmful to our health during the cooking process. Adjusting the food handling method and controlling the cooking temperature and time can reduce the contaminants generated during cooking.
|Methods||Temperatures||Major contaminants of concerns||Retain water soluble vitamins in food|
|Stir-frying||~160-240℃||Acrylamide in vegetables||✓|
|Baking||~150-230℃||Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and cholesterol oxidation products (COPs) in high-fat meat||X|
|Deep-frying||~160-200℃||Acrylamide in vegetables, especially potato products, PAHs in re-used cooking oils, COPs in meat and animal fats||X|
|Pan-frying||~150-200℃||Heterocyclic amines (HCAs) in meat||X|
|Boiling||~100℃||Unlikely to form contaminants with blanching and poaching; repeated boiling of hot pot soup containing animal fats may form COPs||X|
|Steaming||~100℃||Unlikely to form contaminants||✓|
|Stewing||~80-100℃||COPs may be produced during prolonged and repeated heating of high-fat meat||X|
|Cooking food or soup in a covered container over simmering water||~60-100℃||Unlikely to form significant amounts of COPs as this method is usually used for cooking lean meat, fruits and Chinese herbs||X|
By adjusting the cooking time, temperature and/or other ways of handling food, you can reduce the formation of contaminants during the cooking so that food can be enjoyed in a healthier way.
Shorten the frying time
- Blanch for one minute before stir-frying vegetables.
- Parboil or steam meat and potatoes until half done before pan-frying or deep-frying..
- When pan-frying or deep-frying potatoes and other starchy products, go for a light golden-yellow colour.
- Check the meat temperature with a food thermometer and serve as soon as it is cooked.
Lower the temperature
- Avoid keeping the heat high throughout the frying or baking process.
- Avoid heating cooking oil to the smoke point.
- Trim visible fat from meat and poultry before cooking.
- Cut potatoes into thick slices before cooking.
- Store potatoes at room temperature rather than refrigeration.
- Coat potato slices with a batter (e.g. corn starch or wheat flour) before deep-frying.