THE hotter the better is the magic formula for creating perfect chips.

The National Federation of Fish Friers (NFFF) and the Food Standards Agency came up with a recipe for healthier chippy dinners when St Helens Council launched an award scheme for serving up food containing 40 per cent less fat.

Local takeaways who have gained gold accreditation include Frydays in Robins Lane, Newtown Fish Bar in Cambridge Road, Town Fryer in Hall Street and the Codfather in Hard Lane.

With statistics showing one in every three adults in the town are overweight and one in every four obese, public health leaders are eager to find ways for people to reduce fat intake.

St Helens councillor Gareth Cross, said: “Everyone loves a ‘chippy tea’, but most of us know we can’t eat it every day.

“So we’ve decided to reward those chip shops that make small changes to create chips with less saturated fat – yet are still big on taste.“ Experienced Newtown Fish Bar manager Rob Dutch explained the secret behind cooking tasty, healthier chips.

“The secret is in the temperature. I put them in at over 180 degrees, sometimes at 190 degrees,” said Rob.

“The hotter the chips or the fish are, the better they are. Heat seals the outside reducing fat absorption.”

To achieve the gold standard, chip shop operators have to cook their chips for between five and six minutes at a minimum temperature of 170°C, cut them between 12 and 15 millimetres in thickness and ensure they are dried for 20 minutes before being used.

Platinum certification will be awarded to those operators who also use oil with less than 10 per cent saturated fat, filter oil daily, regularly check its quality and use separate fryers for chips and other foods.

All takeaways in the borough are invited to apply for the award.

Contact Karen Featherstone at the Environmental Health department on 01744 675825 before February 21.