Air fryer consists of a heating element and an electric fan, which used the hot air to air-fried food instead of using cooking oil. The electric fan drives hot air circulation inside the fryer, so that the heat spreads faster and more evenly. Although air fryers come in various models, the design is very similar. Users only put the food in, set the temperature and time.
The Consumer Council (or the “Council”) tested 12 air fryers on the market (the “Test”), and found various safety issues, including:
Temperature rise exceeded the limit
The temperature rise of air fryers’ various parts should not exceed the limit as specified by the relevant standard to avoid overheating and affecting the product’s safety. Such temperature rise depends on the materials, construction, heat dissipation design, and whether it will be touched by users or not. The test found that the temperature rise of the internal wires of some models exceeded the specified limit, and the measured maximum surface temperature rise of the handle of some models slightly exceeded the limit. Prolonged contact with these handles might therefore increase the risks of getting burns.
Insufficient insulation distance
The electric poles of live parts should be kept at a certain distance to avoid risks such as short circuiting, arcing, electrical leakage and overheating. In 3 models, the insulation distance between the live parts and user-accessible parts was insufficient, falling short of 1 to 2.5mm from the relevant standard, which might increase the risk of short circuiting.
Poor earthing terminal design
If the power cord is accidentally pulled and the stablising device fails, the earthing conductor should become taut after other live wires, so that it will not loosefirst and affect the earthing protection. the earthing conductor of 1 model was not the last to become taut.
The brand name and model number of 1 model did not print on the product. If there is any product problem occurred, the user cannot follow up with the agent or the manufacturer. Also, many models had insufficient warnings in the manual, such as wordings of “children and the elderly should be supervised when using the product” and “do not allow young children to play with the product”, etc.
Frequently consuming fried foods may increase carcinogenic risk because some food like potatoes, acrylamide will be formed through a chemical reaction when it cooked at high temperature (above 120°C) with little water. In 1994, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified acrylamide as "probably carcinogenic to humans" (Group 2A), so reducing the intake of acrylamide is better. Use air fryers cooking food, although oil-free, the fried food may probably contain carcinogenic acrylamide since it is air fried at high temperature.
In fact, while the Council was conducting the test, the frozen thin French fries were air-fried according to the recipes provided by the manufacturers or agents. The acrylamide content of air-fried frozen thin French fries was tested. It found that all models were found to contain acrylamide at levels ranging from 102μg/kg to 7,038μg/kg, a difference of 68 times! And the acrylamide content of half models was exceeded the EU benchmark level (500μg/kg)!
The Council conducted a subsequent test using the model with the highest level of acrylamide (7038μg/kg). It was found that the acrylamide content of the French fries significantly dropped to 207μg/kg if the cooking time was reduced by 8 minutes (while the cooking temperature remains unchanged).
At the same time, if the cooking temperature was reduced by 50°C to 150°C (while the cooking time remained unchanged), the acrylamide content of the French fries would also significantly dropped to 444 μg/kg. The results demonstrated that cooking temperature and time could affect greatly on the level of acrylamide produced. Therefore, consumers should adjust the cooking time and temperature according to the size, quantity, and thickness of the food items, and try to avoid frying food at high temperature or for a long time in order to reduce the risks of intaking acrylamide.
Consumers often use air fryers to fry potatoes or foods made from potatoes (such as French fries). Taking French fries as an example, consumers can reduce their acrylamide content by following these 4 tricks during air frying:
If fresh potatoes are used to make French fries, avoid using potatoes that are stored at 6°C or lower because the content of reducing sugar (a substance that produces acrylamide) is likely to be higher.
The thickness of the French fries will affect the production of acrylamide. The thicker the slices, the smaller the air-frying surface area, and the lower the content of acrylamide produced.
Before air frying, rinse the potato slices or cook it with water, the asparagine and reducing sugar on the surface could be reduced, both substances produce acrylamide.
The darker colour of the French fries (such as dark brown), the higher level of acrylamide, so consumers should only fry them until light yellow or golden yellow.
If you want to learn more about the performance of air fryers, please refer to the article, “Air Frying French Fries For Long Duration Produce Carcinogens Half of Air Fryers Pose Potential Safety Hazards”, CHOICE Magazine, Issue 532 (Chinese version only), to find out which air fryer models are safer and the performance of each model.
If you want to learn more about acrylamide, or find out which snacks contain this substance, or how to reduce acrylamide intake, please refer to the article, “Trivia Facts on Cooking: Deep-Fried Foods are Carcinogenic?”, (Chinese version only).
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