EFSA Confirms that Acrylamide in Food is a Health Concern

Jul 21, 2014
By LCGC Editors

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has confirmed that acrylamide in food can potentially increase the risk of developing cancer for consumers across all age groups. With the results based on animal studies, the Authority has launched a public consultation on its draft scientific opinion on acrylamide in food, developed by the Authority’s expert Panel on Contaminants in the Food Chain (CONTAM). It is possible to comment on the draft opinion on-line until 15 September. The CONTAM Panel will discuss this feedback before opinion is finalized.

Acrylamide in food is produced by the same chemical reaction that “browns” food during everyday cooking (+150 °C). Coffee, fried potato products, biscuits, crackers and crisp breads, soft bread, and some baby foods are important dietary sources of acrylamide. European and national authorities already recommend reducing acrylamide in food and provide dietary and food preparation advice to consumers and food producers. Purely on a body weight basis, children are the most exposed age group.

The Chair of the CONTAM Panel, Dr Diane Benford, commented: “Acrylamide consumed orally is absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract, distributed to all organs, and extensively metabolized. Glycidamide, one of the main metabolites from this process, is the most likely cause of the gene mutations and tumours seen in animal studies. So far, human studies on occupational and dietary exposure to acrylamide have provided limited and inconsistent evidence of increased risk of developing cancer.”

The draft opinion includes initial recommendations on future research on acrylamide involving humans and also detection and risk assessment methods for germ cell mutation. Once finalized, EFSA’s advice will support European and national decision-makers to consider possible measures to further reduce consumer exposure.

For more information please visit www.efsa.europa.eu