According to the regulation, set out in the Official Journal of the European Union, food businesses in the UK will be required to put in place practical steps to manage acrylamide within their food safety management systems, with effect from April 11, 2018.
Baking, frying, grilling
Acrylamide is a chemical that is created when foods, such as potatoes and bread, are cooked for long periods at high temperatures, for example, when baking, frying, grilling, toasting and roasting. The scientific consensus is that acrylamide has the potential to cause cancer in humans.
The benchmark levels of acrylamide presence in foodstuffs will be reviewed by the Commission every three years.
“The EU intention is to continually refine the benchmark levels in light of reduction strategies and new monitoring data, and to refine the food categories,” IFST said in its Information Statements.
“There is an acceptance that some of these are overly-simplistic; ‘breakfast cereals’, for example, includes both oat porridges (low acrylamide) and toasted cereal flakes (high acrylamide). It is also not appropriate to use the same benchmarks across the whole of Europe.
“For example, the type of coffee preferred by Swedish consumers is much higher in acrylamide than typical UK coffee, and so each should be judged against a different benchmark.”
The approach for different types of food and processors include changing ingredients (decreasing glucose, fructose, asparagine); altering processing conditions (lower heating temperatures, decreased heating time, blanching, use of the enzyme asparaginase); changes in equipment and agronomic practices (for example, storage practices, breeding of cultivars with lower glucose, fructose and/or asparagine content, selection of current cultivars with lower glucose, fructose and/or asparagine contents).
BakeryandSnacks reported earlier this year the European Commission plans to set maximum levels for acrylamide in ready-to-eat foods such as baby foods, crisps and breakfast cereals.
The Commission states, in accordance with Article 4 of Regulation (EC) No 852/2004, setting targets, such as benchmark levels, may guide the implementation of hygiene rules while ensuring the reduction of the level of exposure to certain hazards.
To check the compliance with the benchmark levels, the effectiveness of mitigation measures should be verified through sampling and analysis.
Foodstuffs affected by acrylamide
- French fries, other cut (deep fried) products and sliced potato crisps from fresh potatoes
- Potato crisps, snacks, crackers and other potato products made from potato dough
- Breakfast cereals (excluding porridge)
- Fine bakery wares: cookies, biscuits, rusks, cereal bars, scones, cornets, wafers, crumpets and gingerbread, as well as crackers, crisp breads and bread substitutes. In this category, a cracker is a dry biscuit (a baked product based on cereal flour)
- Coffee: roast coffee; instant (soluble) coffee
- Coffee substitutes
- Baby food and processed cereal-based food intended for infants and young children