Food technologists have unravelled the process that creates the potentially carcinogenic substance acrylamide in some cooked potato products. Published in the UK journal Nature, two separate teams of researchers said they now understood what happened to create the substance. A process called the Maillard reaction is triggered when starchy foods are cooked at high temperatures. More specifically, an amino acid called asparagine, plentiful in potatoes and certain cereals, reacts with sugars to produce acrylamide.