Further evidence for toxicity
The International Agency for Research on Cancer has classified acrylamide and N-methyloacrylamide as “probably carcinogenic to humans” (International Agency for Research On Cancer, 1994). Studies in mice have shown that acrylamide could increase the incidence of cancers in the brain and central nervous system, the thyroid and other endocrine glands and reproductive organs (Bousquet and Ettner, 1996). Several lifetime oncogenicity studies in rats have shown that acrylamide increased the incidence of tumours in several organs, especially at higher doses (male dose 0 – 2 mg/kg/day and female dose 0 – 3 mg/kg/day) (Friedman et al., 1995).
The biological effects of acrylamide (C3H5NO, Figure 2) and its reactive epoxide metabolite, glycidamide (C3H5NO2, Figure 1) have been studied in vivo and include biological alkylation of proteins such as haemoglobin and enzymes, as well as DNA (Friedman, 2003a, Tareke et al., 2002, Tareke et al., 2000).
The main objective of Curtis Analytics is to help companies and private clients to reduce the levels of acrylamide in their products. In order to achieve this, we are conducting ground-breaking and vital research into mitigation strategies and testing procedures. Our research projects are funded both publicly (through innovate UK) and privately.
The recently adopted regulation: EU COMMISSION REGULATION (EU 2017/2158) (20-Nov-2017), established mitigation measures and benchmark levels for the reduction of acrylamide in food. The regulation requires business operators (companies that produce food from wheat, rye, oats, potatoes, coffee and cocoa) to adopt mitigation measures necessary to meet the objectives of the regulation. To confirm compliance with benchmark levels, the effectiveness of mitigation measures instigated by industry will have to be verified through sampling, testing and analysis.
From April 2020, the regulation will be enforced, and food-producers will have to show lowered acrylamide levels in their products.
Reducing the presence of acrylamide in food. The aims of the regulation are to reduce the level of acrylamide in food. To do that food manufacturers, fast-food chains and restaurants collectively known as a food business operators have to follow certain procedures. These mitigation measures are designed to ensure acrylamide levels in different foods are below the indicative benchmark levels set out in the legislation.
Key points in legislation are the procedures are based on the current scientific and technical knowledge and are very depending on the size of the food operator – they are more difficult for the large-scale businesses.
Food business operators must apply the mitigation measures set out in the regulation’s annexes, sample and analyse the food they produce. Consider whether changes to their production processes are necessary to comply with regulation.
The measures apply to selection, storage and transport of raw ingredients, recipes and design processes and information to the public.
The products covered by the legislation are French fries, other cur deep-fried products and sliced potato chips from fresh potatoes; potato crisps, snacks, crackers and other potato products from potato, dough, bread, fine bakery items such as cookies, biscuits, rusks, cereal bars, scones, cornets, wafers, crumpets, gingerbread, crackers and crisp breads; coffee (roast and instant) and coffee substitutes; baby food and processed cereal based food for infants and young children.
The European Commission will consider setting maximum acrylamide levels for certain foods the review the benchmark levels in the regulation every three years. The first time will be in 2021.
The regulation applies from 11thApril 2018.
Acrylamide, a chemical described as ‘extremely hazardous’ and ‘probably carcinogenic to humans’, was discovered in food in 2002. Its presence in a range of popular foods has become one of the most difficult issues facing not only the food industry but all stakeholders in the food supply chain and its oversight.
For further reading on this topic, you can read Acrylamide in Food by Nigel G Halford & Tanya Y Curtis.