Pubs and restaurants in the UK could soon be fined for serving well-done items such as triple-cooked chips or thin and crispy pizza under a second phase of the Government's crackdown on burnt food.
Following the launch of a major public awareness campaign yesterday to help people reduce "cancer-causing" acrylamide in food, the Daily Telegraph can reveal that food safety watchdogs are planning to extend the warning to every food-serving business in Britain.
Under a new European Union food hygiene directive, due to be adopted in the UK by the the end of 2017, pubs and restaurants will be told to take reasonable steps to reduce acrylamide in food or face enforcement measures.
Until now many local establishments will be unaware that they may soon need to drastically alter cooking practices to reduce acrylamide, which forms when potatoes and grain-based items are cooked in temperatures hotter than 120C.
It means those continuing to serve "high acrylamide" foods, such as brown roast potatoes or burned Yorkshire puddings, could be visited by the Food Standards Agency's enforcement officers and face hefty fines.
The move is being planned despite scientists accusing the Government of "massively overreacting" as there is no scientific proof of a link between acrylamide consumption and cancer in humans.
The FSA's advice is based on experiments on mice, rather than any studies showing that acrylamide causes cancer in people.
The new rules are also likely to be hit with a backlash from the catering industry as the British Beer and Pub Association said it would resist attempts by the FSA to become a "chip fat controller".
Andy Bale, General Manager at the White Lion in North London, said: "The welfare of our customers is top priority for us but if customers want their chips well done then they should be allowed this.
"Over consumption of alcohol is seen as one of the biggest threats to health and yet we serve this to customers every day with the caveat that if we think someone's had enough we won't serve them any more."
Restaurants will be offered a guide full of tips on how to reduce acrylamide in food which will also be used by the FSA's enforcement team to gauge whether levels are unacceptably high.
The guide will include colour charts designed to be kept in kitchens to show chefs which shades of yellow and brown are safe for cooked chips and potatoes to match.
It will also advise chefs to buy types of potatoes which are low in starch and blanch chips and potatoes before frying or roasting, and cooking them at a lower heat and for less time.