Risk assessors from the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) repeated their call for the levels of acrylamide in foods to be reduced as far and as quickly as possible. Speaking one year after the Swedish National Food Administration turned the spotlight on the levels of this potential carcinogen in foods, the BfR last week refused to give the all-clear.
Citing the need for "a greater degree of success from the angle of risk assessment", the Bfr asserted that "lasting trends cannot yet be identified from the data made available by the Federal Office for Consumer Protection and Food Safety". For the risk assessors, although the question of analysis has largely been settled, acrylamide levels could still be reduced in some areas, and quickly.
"It became clear very early on that major efforts would be necessary by industry, scientific circles and public authorities but also by consumers in order to minimise the consumer risk from acrylamide in foods given the complex nature and scale of the problem," said the group recently.
For the German organisation, acrylamide still poses a serious health risk to consumers."It can be assumed that the substance can also trigger cancer in man and damage the genotype," warned the BfR.
In January this year the British Journal of Cancer published a study from the Swedish Karolinska Institute which was unable to detect any link between the uptake of acrylamide and an increase in specific tumour rates. But for the BfR the study findings were not enough to give the green light to acylamide in food.
"Given the 'toxicity' of the substance, its occurrence in many foods and, by extension, the exposure to it, leads to a comparatively high health risk for consumers," the institute said last week.
On a more positive note, the institute praised the fact that scientists in the past year had identified the main mechanisms which contribute to the formation of acrylamide. This new knowledge should ultimately provide solutions to reduce acylamide exposure.
Erring on the side of caution, the institute is arguably lighting the path for other risk assessors across the globe - research must continue before conclusions are drawn.