Hidden health risk of junk food snacks

Hong Kong’s Consumer Council revealed yesterday that eating too many chips and French fries may carry hidden health risks. 

The watchdog’s study tested 39 samples of pre-packaged and freshly fried potato snacks from restaurants and found that 30% of the
39 samples contained levels of a cancer-causing agent called acrylamide which exceeded EU standards. Out of 77 samples of crispy snacks that were also tested in Hong Kong, 70 were found to contain acrylamide.
Among the brands tested, Japanese brand Topvalu’s Best Price Potato Chips Salt Flavour was found to have 2,614 micrograms of acrylamide per kg. This is nearly 3.5 times the EU standard of 750mcg/kg.

French fries from fast-food chain Five Guys, waffle fries from Ikea and Spaghetti House’s hash browns were among those found to have exceedingly high levels of acrylamide. In a response to the council, Five Guys said it would reduce acrylamide in its products by monitoring the quality of potatoes and create guidelines for changing cooking oils.

Currently, Hong Kong has no safety standards regarding the level of acrylamide in food. In the EU, food business operators are required to limit the amount of the substance during production.

So, what about the healthier chip alternatives? Commercially sold prawn, corn and quinoa chips typically contain less acrylamide and fat, but they are high in sodium. 

Try some healthier snacks below.


  1. Do you like crispy or crunchy foods? Try making sweet potato/ yam or lotus root chips. Slice the raw vegetable, soak the slices in water for 15 to 30 minutes before baking or air-frying them until crisp. Soaking them first in water can reduce acrylamide formation while cooking.
  2. Enjoy a handful of nuts. Researchers at the Imperial College of London and the Norwegian University of Science and Technology found that people who eat 20g (around a handful) of nuts on a daily basis have a lower risk of heart disease and cancer, as well as respiratory conditions, diabetes and infections. Click here to read more about the benefits of nuts.
  3. fruits-82524_1920Fruits are a healthy, refreshing snack. Berries, papaya, avocado, pomegranate and seasonal fruits are great choices. Apple slices with nut butter are also healthy and satisfying.
  4. Chia seed pudding made with almond milk and topped with berries and pumpkin seeds makes a nutritious and delicious snack.
  5. Try baby carrots or celery sticks with hummus or tahini.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: