The Safer Toast Advisory Group (STAG) has produced its preliminary report on the hazards of domestic toast production. The report will eventually be incorporated into the forthcoming EU Advisory on the safety of domestic food preparation.
Dr Jez Anstruther, STAG chief scientific adviser takes up the story:-
People generally tend to underestimate the risks of domestic toasting activities. Apart from the main climate change gas CO2, we have found a whole range of chemical compounds, smokes and other particulates are released into the domestic atmosphere even when something as simple as toast is being produced.
When asked to elaborate, Dr Anstruther continued:-
Within the toasting cavity of your typical domestic toaster, the starches in bread break down under intense thermal stresses, sometimes with surprising, even catastrophic results. A range of possibly toxic or potentially carcinogenic compounds are released into the domestic atmosphere where of course they may easily be inhaled by young children. Really, it's no better than passive smoking, so we definitely see old-fashioned toasting as a serious potential danger.
We are working closely with toaster manufacturers to design an EU-approved range of toasters which will produce a new kind of toast resembling lightly heated bread, whatever the toaster setting. It's actually much nicer that old-fashioned crusty toast which sprays crumbs all over the place. I see this as a real step forward. Approved design is the STAG approach, because in the end that's what works. After all, we have no wish to ban toast or anything draconian like that.