SAFE urges acrylamide reduction in food due to safety concerns

Published: 21-Jun-2024

Acrylamide has been linked to genotoxicity and enhanced cancer risk

SAFE, a food advocacy group operating in Europe, has begun a social media campaign which aims to raise awareness on the dangers of acrylamide consumption for all ages, but particularly in infants and children.

The organisation is also urging European policymakers to crack down on acrylamide, after a report from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) deemed it a ‘public health risk’ due to its associated genotoxicity and cancer risk. 


How is acrylamide formed? 

Acrylamide is commonly formed in high-temperature cooking, and is naturally present in a range of everyday foods. 

A large variety of industrial and commercial cooking methods can facilitate the formation of acrylamide — including frying, roasting and baking.

The substance is generated by a heat-induced chemical reaction at low humidity, which alters the sugar and amino acids found naturally in starchy food products.

The acrylamide levels of a food item are linked both to how it was cooked and to its basic ingredients, as well as how it was stored — though SAFE state that it’s mostly found in fried products.

Shortfalls in current legislation

The current benchmark for acrylamide levels set by the European Commission have proven ineffective at protecting consumer health, according to SAFE.

Therefore, the organisation calls for legally binding maximum levels for all high-risk food categories, such as:

  • Potato crisps
  • Breakfast products 
  • French fries.

SAFE is also advocating for strict acrylamide level regulations in baby foods, with the proposed maximum being 50 μg/kg, as studies suggest that levels as low as 1 μg/kg are easily attainable. 

This is the same for biscuits marketed for children, as the current benchmark is 150 μg/kg, which SAFE believes should be significantly lower. 

In 2023, CVUA Stuttgart found alarmingly high acrylamide levels – reaching up to 3500 μg/kg in vegetable chips – in various foods categories, such French fries, potato chips, wheat-based bread, crispbread, instant coffee, gingerbread, crackers, cornflakes and breakfast cereals.

For these reasons, SAFE urges the European Commission and the incoming European Parliament to place consumer safety at the forefront of their agenda. 

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