EFSA stands by acrylamide cancer concerns

By Kacey Culliney contact

- Last updated on GMT

EFSA's final scientific opinion on acrylamide in food said the highest dietary contributor for adults was fried potato products like French fries
EFSA's final scientific opinion on acrylamide in food said the highest dietary contributor for adults was fried potato products like French fries

Related tags: Potato, Acrylamide, French fries, European food safety authority

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has published its final opinion on acrylamide in food, reconfirming previous evaluations that it increases the risk of developing cancer for consumers in all age groups.

“Evidence from animal studies shows that acrylamide and its metabolite glycidamide are genotoxic and carcinogenic: they damage DNA and cause cancer,”​ it wrote.

However, the authority acknowledged evidence from human studies remained “limited and inconclusive”, ​although due to its carcinogenic and genotoxic nature would not set a tolerable daily intake (TDI) for acrylamide in foods.

The authority said margins of exposure still indicated concern with respect to neoplastic effects (measurable tumor incidence) even though current levels of dietary exposure were not of concern to non-neoplastic effects.

EFSA called on further research, including occurrence data relating to the mode of preparation and duplicate diet studies, to better assess exposure assessment in humans. The full opinion can be found HERE​.

EFSA initially published its draft conclusion in June 2014​, leaving it open for public consultation between July 1 and September 15, last year.

Over the period 120 comments were received from 23 different parties, including national agencies and governmental bodies, industry and associations, academia and individuals. All comments can be viewed HERE​.

Diane Benford, chair of EFSA’s panel on Contaminants in the Food Chain (CONTAM), said: “The public consultation helped us to fine-tune the scientific opinion. In particular, we have further clarified our evaluation of studies on the effects of acrylamide in humans and our description of the main food sources of acrylamide for consumers.”

Food group contributors

EFSA identified the most important food groups contributing to acrylamide exposure: fried potato products, coffee, biscuits, crackers, crisp bread and soft bread.

However, these exposures varied by age.

For adults, the highest contributors were fried potato products (including French fries, croquettes and roasted potatoes), representing 49% of average exposure, followed by coffee at 34% and soft bread at 23%. For children, fried potato products (except potato crisps and snacks) represented 51% of all dietary exposure, followed by soft bread, breakfast cereals, biscuits and other cereal or potato-based products, representing 25%. 

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