Acrylamide reduction strategies at home

Acrylamide Reduction in everyday food

Acrylamide is formed during cooking from asparagine and reducing sugars as part of a reaction called the Maillard reaction. This reaction is responsible for creating all of the desired flavours and browning in our food, acrylamide formation is just part of the reaction. Formation is usually achieved by heating food to temperatures above 120°C. Therefore, when cooking, home cooks should ensure that they follow the guidelines in the FSA’s ‘Go for Gold’ campaign.

Asparagine testsAcrylamide tests

General advice for home cooks preparing food 

Advice for home cooks

Cooking Guidelines

The formation of acrylamide depends on the levels of its precursors in the food ingredients and the time that the food is exposed to higher temperatures. Therefore, to reduce acrylamide formation in home-cooked food, people should follow the guidelines:

  1. Go for gold when frying potatoes. The darker that the fried potatoes are, the higher the acrylamide content.
  2. When roasting or baking potatoes, pre-boiling potatoes for 10 minutes reduces the free amino acid and sugar content, therefore, reducing the amount of acrylamide which can form.
  3. Limit the addition of sugar to your home-made bread. The extra sugar adds to the precursors of acrylamide.
  4. Fresh potatoes form less acrylamide when cooking then stored potatoes.
  5. Don’t keep your raw potatoes in the fridge, this leads to increased levels of precursors.
  6. Check and follow the cooking instructions on the pack of processed/frozen foods (eg. frozen chips/parsnips).  This ensures the food is not cooked for too long or exposed to temperatures higher than necessary.

Mitigation measures

Most companies producing ingredients and processing food are aware of the acrylamide problem and are doing everything possible to reduce the precursors for acrylamide formation at an industrial scale, but this is not a simple task. There are multiple methods for reducing acrylamide at an industrial scale from guidance regarding crop husbandry to enzymatic removal of precursors in a factory. Many of these methods are complicated and require training to undertake them (in the case of handling enzymes etc.).

As a result, many of these methods are not currently available to the domestic user.  Home cooks should be assured that food producers are achieving results from their efforts to reduce acrylamide and that specialist companies such as Curtis Analytics are helping them with analyses and advice. Until such time that these mitigation methods are available to the general public, the best advice is to follow the guidelines and not to overcook your starchy foods (such as bread and potatoes).

Curtis Analytics is happy to recieve questions from the general public regarding thier acrylamide intake and what we are doing to reduce it.  Please use the form below if you wish to get in touch with us.

Benchmarks

These are the benchmark levels that food should have according to the EU Regulation on acrylamide reduction

FoodIndicative Value 2011 (ppb)Indicative Value 2013 (ppb)Benchmark Level 2017 (ppb)
French fries600600500
Potato chips (UK crisps)10001000750
Soft bread (wheat)1508050
Soft bread (other)
150100
Breakfast cereals: bran products, whole grain cereals, gun puffed grain400400300
Breakfast cereals: wheat and rye based300300
Breakfast cereals: maize, oat, spelt, barley and rice based200150
Biscuits500500350
Crackers500500400
Crispbread500450350
Gingerbread1000800
Cereal-based baby foods1005040
Baby foods (not cereal based) without prunes8050
Baby foods (not cereal based) with prunes80
Biscuits and rusks for infants and young children250150
Roast coffee450450400
Instant coffee900900850
Coffee substitute (cereal-based)2000500
Coffee substitute (chicory)40004000

Further reading on Acrylamide

Book

Acrylamide in Food

N. Halford and T. Curtis (2019)

 

 

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Don’t Wait Any Longer. Reduce Acrylamide Today! 

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