Acrylamide levels in food have to be reduced

As from 11 April 2018, a regulation laying down that food producers have to substantially reduce the levels of the substance, which develops in food and is hazardous to human health, i. e. acrylamide, will come into force all over the EU. Establishments producing baked, roasted, fried foodstuffs or establishments producing dishes for catering as well as farmers growing certain kinds of food plants (potatoes, cereals) will have to adapt to the new regulation.

After the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) had confirmed the previous considerations that the presence of acrylamide in food may increase the risk of oncological diseases in consumers in all age groups, the European Commission (EC) established lower allowed levels for the presence of acrylamide in high risk foodstuffs and adopted measures for the reduction of this contaminant during production.

The most frequently consumed products with potential presence of acrylamide are: roasted or fried potatoes, potato chips, coffee (acrylamide is produced in the process of roasting coffee beans), cookies, crackers, wafers, gingerbreads, cakes, crisp or soft bread, etc.

The EC document lays down that producers of risky products will have to continuously monitor the levels of acrylamide in their production, select samples and analyse the testing results. In case of detection of increased levels of acrylamide, they will have to apply the acrylamide reduction measures specified in the regulation. For example, the good manufacturing practice for bread and other bakery products shows that the acrylamide levels in final products can be substantially reduced by increasing the duration of the yeast fermentation process, regulating the baking temperature and time, visual assessment of the colour (browning) of products.

Catering establishments, in order to reduce the acrylamide levels in roasted or fried dishes, in particular in French fries, will have to apply colour palettes / manuals. It was confirmed by research that the lighter the colour of French fries is, the lower is the acrylamide level, therefore, dark colour, heavily browned French fries should not be served to consumers. The same rule applies to fried bread.

Acrylamide is a carcinogenic substance, which is produced from free asparagine (amino acid), which is naturally present in products, and sugars when potato, cereal products, coffee and coffee substitutes are treated in high temperatures (roasted, fried or baked).

For more details on acrylamide please see: