27 September 2022

Furan is a food contaminant highly volatile and lipophilic, naturally present in food. It is formed when food is heated at a high temperature in a closed container. Furan is mostly found in jarred food (as direct packing after processing impedes its evaporation) and in roasted coffee beans, as well as in home-cooked food at a lesser extent. Consumers are not able to detect the presence of furan in food because it is microscopic.

Health risks may appear above a certain daily dose of furan consumption. Since 1995, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) qualified furan as “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen based on evidence of malignant tumour formation at multiple tissue sites in multiple species of experimental animals”. Further research, such as the joint report by the Food Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) released in 2010, highlighted that average furan exposure level “indicates a human health concern for a carcinogenic compound”.

The lack of legally binding benchmark leaves the room to consumers’ potential and dangerous exposure to furan. Considering both the current legislation on food contaminants, which tends to prevent any concern for the health of consumers, and the significant results of the various scientific researches that tend to prove the carcinogenic properties of furan, SAFE considers that it is necessary to reduce the levels of furan in food and to keep these levels as low as possible.

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