We select and review products independently. When you purchase through our links we may earn a commission. Learn more.

Wait, Is Eating Burnt Food Bad For You?

A person pulls a piece of burnt toast out of a toaster.

Most of us aren’t going to eat charcoal chicken when it’s burnt to a crisp in the oven, or blackened casserole with crispy burned noodles. But, some people love a little char on their hot dogs or the “burnt” taste of an overly-toasted marshmallow.

Unfortunately, burning certain foods—especially toast—might be worse for your body than you realize.

When some foods like grains and starches are heated up, a chemical forms called acrylamide. The hotter the food gets, the higher the presence of acrylamide. So, burnt toast might not be the best way to start your day.

What’s the problem with acrylamide? There need to be more studies when it comes to how it impacts humans, research has shown that it’s been linked to cancer in laboratory mice. Humans would likely need a much higher dosage of the chemical to be affected in such a way, but the FDA is actively researching its effects.

Amazon Basics 2 Slice, Extra-Wide Slot Toaster with 6 Shade Settings

Six shade settings for perfectly golden toast.

Other foods, including burnt meats (yes, the ones fresh off the grill) have been linked to an increased risk of ovarian and kidney cancer thanks to the same chemical. The International Agency for Research on Cancer has labeled acrylamide as a “probably human carcinogen.”

So, is burnt food dangerous?

At this point, that’s a bit difficult to ascertain because studies have looked at huge amounts of the chemical given to mice. Human exposure would likely need to be astronomical to have cancer-causing effects. Plus, it’s widely found in a variety of foods already, and eliminating it from the diet completely would be difficult.

Ultimately, should you be eating burned toast every day? Maybe not, but if you enjoy a charred steak or an overdone marshmallow on your smores, you’re probably just fine until the FDA says otherwise.

Stacey Koziel Stacey Koziel
Stacey Koziel is a news writer at LifeSavvy. She's worked as a freelance writer for over ten years, focusing on family and lifestyle content. She also has a background in marketing and social media, and is always eager to talk (and write!) about the latest TikTok trends. Read Full Bio »
LifeSavvy is focused on one thing: making your life outside of work even better. Want to know more?