Acrylamide is a chemical compound, which is formed during most high-temperature cooking processes; it is naturally present in numerous everyday food products. Most industrial and commercial cooking methods can lead to the formation of acrylamide (frying, roasting, baking), as well as home-cooking ones. Acrylamide is generated through a chemical reaction i.e. – induced by heat (mainly above 120°C) at low humidity levels – which transforms sugar and amino acids that are naturally comprised in starchy food products. This reaction, known as the Maillard Reaction, enhances the taste of the cooked item, while being also responsible for the brownish colour it often gives to food. The level of acrylamide of a given product is thus linked to how it was cooked and to its basic ingredients, but is also notably influenced by storage conditions.
Acrylamide is mainly found in fried products – such as French fries, roast potatoes and croquettes – while those contribute to almost half of both adults and children’s exposure to acrylamide. The other principal sources for adults are coffee and bread, while children get the rest of their intake from bread, breakfast cereals, biscuits, potato crisps and snacks. As to infants, their biggest sources of intake include all sorts of processed baby foods, whether based on potatoes, cereal or other ingredients. Taking into account standard diet composition and body weight information, children are the age group most exposed to acrylamide.
In June 2015 the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) published its first full risk assessment concerning the acrylamide in food. EFSA experts confirm that acrylamide in food can increase cancer risks for consumers of all age and consider it a public health concern.
SAFE’S ACRYLAMIDE CAMPAIGN
In November 2016, SAFE launched its campaign on Acrylamide across the EU.
In the following months, a draft legislation on the level of acrylamide in food will be voted by EU representatives.
The campaign aims:
- To create consumers’ awareness about acrylamide;
- To inform about the vote of a new EU legislation on acrylamide;
- To advocate for reducing citizens’ exposure to acrylamide by the adoption of strong legally binding maximum levels of acrylamide in our food.
Six partners in Europe are participating in their respective countries: ASGECO in Spain, Vegetik in Belgium, Vegan OK in Italy, Voedingsunie in The Netherlands, LVOA in Lithuania and Vegetarforening in Denmark.
Download our Brochure on acrylamide in English, Spanish, French, Lithuanian and Dutch: