Acrylamide content in affected food

Acrylamide accumulation is highest in foods such as:

  • potato fries from fresh potatoes (550 µg/kg),
  • crisps (2214 µg/kg)
  • breakfast cereals (744 µg/kg)


The highest level of acrylamide registered in the literature is in beetroot crisps: This was 2,957 micrograms of acrylamide per kilogram, almost four times the EU benchmark level of 750 micrograms per kilogram!

Why test for Acrylamide

Acrylamide analyses are obligatory for all food manufacturers. They have to show a reduction of acrylamide levels in their products. Curtis Analytics Ltd offers acrylamide analyses by liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry techniques (LC-MS). We work with vast numbers of samples and we offer the most competitive price on the market. We have detected levels of acrylamide formation in different products between: 58 µg/kg to 7453 µg/kg in fresh potato crisps.

The free amino acid, asparagine, is one of the main limiting factors of acrylamide formation in wheat products. The current golden standard analyses of asparagine take ten days to complete. However, food manufacturers are looking for more straight-forward and faster methods to analyse raw products. ASNInsta test allows asparagine to be measured easy, intstantly, within ten minutes and reliably. Thus confirming, that food manufacturers are reducing acrylamide forming potential as low as reasonably achievable.

Coffee is also a high acrylamide-forming product, for example, roasted dry coffee has 164 µg/kg acrylamide, and instant coffee has 641 µg/kg of acrylamide. This data can be found in the FSA report (p11, Survey of Acrylamide and Furans in the UK Retail products: Results for Samples Purchased between January 2017 and November 2017). The highest levels of acrylamide found in coffee products was discovered in Substitute coffee (dry), which is mainly produced from cereals, with maximum levels reaching 1897 µg/kg acrylamide (survey by the Food Standards Agency).

Acrylamide in baby food

Another food category with high acrylamide-forming potential is baby food products. Baby food generally has lower levels of acrylamide, but because of their body weight, babies consume more acrylamide per day/per weight when compared to adults. Following the survey, particularly high in acrylamide were baby foods containing prunes (51 µg/kg of acrylamide), biscuits and rusks (58 µg/kg) followed by an unspecified baby food category with the highest levels (56 µg/kg).  It is unknown whether babies are more at risk from acrylamide exposure than adults, but the concern is that as they are developing, the neurotoxic effects might be more pronounced.

Mitigation Measures

The Food Standards Agency published a campaign to minimise customers exposure to acrylamide in 2017 named:

‘Go for Gold’

Where the main recommendations are:

  1. Aim for golden colour when frying, baking, toasting and roasting starchy foods like potatoes, root vegetables and bread.
  2. Check the packaging for manufacturers recommendation of cooking of potatoes, chips, parsnips and other processed foods.
  3. Eat a varied and balanced diet that reduces the risk of colon cancer.
  4. Don’t keep raw potatoes in the fridge (as this increases the asparagine content).


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 to adopt mitigation measures necessary to meet the objectives of the Regulation. To confirm compliance with benchmark levels, the effectiveness of mitigation measures by industry will have to be verified through sampling, testing and analysis.

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Food security: the challenge of increasing wheat yield and the importance of not compromising food safety. T Curtis, NG Halford (2014), Annals of applied biology: 164 (3), 354-372

Sugars in crop plants. NG Halford, TY Curtis, N Muttucumaru, J Postles, DS Mottram (2011), Annals of Applied Biology: 158 (1), 1-25

The acrylamide problem: a plant and agronomic science issue. NG Halford, TY Curtis, N Muttucumaru, J Postles, JS Elmore, DS Mottram (2012), Journal of experimental botany: 63 (8), 2841-2851

Effects of genotype and environment on free amino acid levels in wheat grain: implications for acrylamide formation during processing. TY Curtis, N Muttucumaru, PR Shewry, MAJ Parry, SJ Powers, JS Elmore,,(2009 ), Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry: 57 (3), 1013-1021

 Free amino acids and sugars in rye grain: implications for acrylamide formation. TY Curtis, SJ Powers, D Balagiannis, JS Elmore, DS Mottram, MAJ Parry,, (2010), Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry: 58 (3), 1959-1969

Acrylamide in Food.

N. Halford and T. Curtis (2019),WSPC (Europe)

  • Chapter 1: Introduction: Toxicology of Acrylamide and its Formation in Food 
  • Chapter 2: The Response of International Food Safety Authorities
  • Chapter 3: Measures taken by the Food Industry to Reduce Acrylamide levels
  • Chapter 4: Agronomic and Genetic Approached to Reducing the Acrylamide-forming Potential of Wheat and Rye
  • Chapter 5: Agronomic and Genetic Approached to Reducing the Acrylamide-forming Potential of Potato
  • Chapter 6: Conclusions

Acrylamide formation in food is a difficult-to-resolve problem recognised by the food industry. Curtis Analytics Ltd aims to help companies and private individuals to reduce the levels of acrylamide in their products and food to ‘as low as reasonably achievable’ (ALARA) and to comply with an evolving regulatory framework.

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Telephone: 07766 748793

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