Proposed “benchmark” acrylamide levels set to impose further food firm limits

By Will Chu

- Last updated on GMT

Deep fried potato products, biscuits and crackers as well as bread and some baby foods are dietary sources of acrylamide.©iStock/Zerbor
Deep fried potato products, biscuits and crackers as well as bread and some baby foods are dietary sources of acrylamide.©iStock/Zerbor

Related tags: Acrylamide levels, Potato

Measures to reduce acrylamide levels in food took a step forward as new draft proposals outline "benchmark" mandatory levels for the industry.

The proposals​state that Food Business Operators (FBO) of deep fried foods such as French fries, potato crisps and other potato products would have to apply "mitigation measures,"​ in order to reduce levels of the chemical.

Potato-based products head up a list that also include bread, breakfast cereals and other fine bakery wares such as cookies, biscuits, rusks, cereal bars, scones, cornets and wafers.

The European Food and Safety Authority (EFSA) identify these foods as increasing the risk of cancer to consumers of all age groups.

In its scientific opinion​ EFSA said that while human studies investigating acrylamide exposure was "limited and inconclusive"​, the margin of exposure based on current levels of dietary exposure “indicate a concern.”

Sample and analysis

EU European Commission Europe Brussels iStock.com PaulGrecaud
“The benchmark levels of acrylamide presence in foodstuffs shall be reviewed by the Commission every three years,” the proposals stated, “and the first time within three years after the entry into application of this Regulation.”©iStock/Paul Grecaud

A spokesperson for Bureau Européen des Unions de Consommateurs (BEUC), a group that represents the interests of European consumers, said that they were in consultation with their members and were not able to comment on the proposals at this time.

According to the Commission's draft law, FBOs would be required to keep detailed sampling and analysis records of all potato-based foods.

These include the selection of suitable potato varieties, reducing the amount of bruised, spotted or damaged potatoes used and adopting specific storage and transport conditions.

Where the content of reducing sugars is higher than 1.5% in dough-based potato products such as crisps and crackers, the FBOs are required to provide data demonstrating that acrylamide levels in the finished product are as low as reasonably achievable.

Similarly, heat-treated ingredients that make up breakfast cereals, which contain 150 micrograms of acrylamide per kilogram (µg/kg) or more, would need to be registered, supplier-audited and assurances given that no changes are made to the ingredient that increase acrylamide levels.

“The benchmark levels of acrylamide presence in foodstuffs shall be reviewed by the Commission every three years,”​ the proposals stated, “and the first time within three years after the entry into application of this Regulation.”

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