UW-Madison Researchers Lead Potato Quality and Safety Initiative
Food safety is important to all of us. We’re proud to announce that the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture has selected University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW) researchers to lead a national, multi-institution effort to improve the quality and safety of processed potatoes.
The UW researchers have been awarded a $3.7 million Specialty Crop Research Initiative grant to finance a four-year research project aimed at reducing the amount of acrylamide — a potential carcinogen — in french fries and potato chips. The challenge is to reduce acrylamide without altering the taste and texture of the products. Research will focus on producing four new consumer-friendly chip potato and fry potato lines with reduced acrylamide levels.
“Acrylamide is an unwanted compound in these products that we didn’t know was there until 2002. We actually don’t know if it is a serious health concern, but it’s much better to be out in front of this,” said the project’s leader, Paul Bethke, a UW-Madison assistant professor of horticulture and USDA-ARS plant physiologist.
“This award isn’t just about Wisconsin, it’s for the entire potato industry,” said UW-Madison associate professor of horticulture A.J. Bussan, who helped develop the grant. “The coordinated, nationwide involvement is unprecedented. It shows the amount of attention industry is paying to this issue.”