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Healthy potato chips from the US might represent breakthrough in snack food

In a pivotal development within the US snack food sector, Michigan State University (MSU) researchers Jiming Jiang and David Douches have made a groundbreaking discovery that could transform potato chips and fries into healthier options. By identifying and manipulating the gene responsible for cold-induced sweetening (CIS), they aim to develop potato varieties that resist this process, thereby reducing the formation of acrylamide, a carcinogen produced when frying cold-stored potatoes.

This innovation is particularly significant for the snack industry, where Michigan's contribution stands at $240 million annually. The challenge of year-round potato cultivation necessitates cold storage, which traditionally leads to CIS and higher acrylamide levels in fried products. However, Jiang and Douches' work offers a solution by targeting the genetic root of CIS, potentially eliminating this issue without affecting the flavor or cost of production.

"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," Jiang elucidated. This discovery is the result of extensive collaboration and leverages MSU's facilities, including its premier potato breeding program. The next steps involve employing gene editing and other breeding techniques to create CIS-resistant potato lines, with Douches emphasizing the efficiency of their on-campus research operations.

This breakthrough not only promises to revolutionize the billion-dollar US snack market but also sets a new standard for global food health standards.


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