Fast Food/Quick Service Restaurants, Health/Nutrition/Food Safety, North America, Processing, fries, chips, Research, Studies/Reports

Michigan State University scientists cracking the code to a healthier potato chip

In a breakthrough for the snack food industry, a team of scientists led by Michigan State University (MSU) professors Jiming Jiang and David Douches has discovered a key mechanism behind the darkening and potential health concerns associated with cold-stored potatoes. 

As Samantha Brichta reports in a MSU news story, their findings, published Feb. 20 in the journal The Plant Cell, hold promise for the development of potato varieties that could be stored under cold temperatures and lead to healthier and tastier chips and fries.

These snacks have a market worth billions of dollars in the U.S. In Michigan — the nation’s leading producer of potatoes for chips — the potato industry is valued at $240 million annually.

But farmers can’t grow the crops year-round and snack makers need a constant supply of fresh spuds to meet their demands. Preserving potatoes in cold storage ensures chip and fry producers have what they need, but the low temperatures also trigger a process called cold-induced sweetening, or CIS, which converts starches to sugars. 

Processing tubers loaded with sugars results in darkened fries and chips. It also generates acrylamide, a carcinogenic compound formed during high-temperature processing, which has been linked to health concerns including an increased cancer risk. 

Although there are techniques to reduce sugars in cold-stored tubers, these add cost and can affect the flavor of the final product. So Jiang and his colleagues have focused on the root of the problem to work toward potatoes that aren’t affected by CIS to begin with.

“We’ve identified the specific gene responsible for CIS and, more importantly, we’ve uncovered the regulatory element that switches it on under cold temperatures,” explained Jiang, an MSU Research Foundation Professor in the departments of Plant Biology and Horticulture

“By studying how this gene turns on and off, we open up the possibility of developing potatoes that are naturally resistant to CIS and, therefore, will not produce toxic compounds.”

Source: Michigan State University (MSU). Read the full story here
Photo: Michigan State University researchers David Douches (left) and Jiming Jiang (right) work with potato plants in Michigan State University’s Agronomy Farm Greenhouse. Credit: Paul Henderson/MSU

Editor & Publisher: Lukie Pieterse


Feel free to get in touch with Lukie!
He’ll be happy to share your company’s news stories on Potato News Today:
lukie@potatonewstoday.com
Connect on LinkedIn
Follow on Twitter
About us

LOCKWOOD Mfg

PULSEMASTER

FPS Food Process Solutions

AVR

DORMFRESH | 1,4GROUP

TOMRA FOOD

CROP.ZONE

VOLM COMPANIES

GRIMME