Occurrence in foodstuffs
Acrylamide can form in foodstuffs during the manufacturing process, when foods containing starch are deep-fried, baked in oven, pan-fried, or roasted at high temperatures (exceeding 120oC). Cooking in water has not been found to increase acrylamide levels in foods.
The highest acrylamide levels have been found in potato products, such as potato crisps and French fries, and cereal products, such as crisp bread, cookies, or breakfast cereals, as well as in coffee. The most important sources of acrylamide for adults include coffee, casseroles containing starch (potato or pasta) as well as rye bread, and for children casseroles, cookies, crisps and other baked potatoes. This is due to the high amounts in which they are consumed.
Acrylamide is not a compound only found in industrial food products. Home cooking processes also cause the formation of acrylamide.
Adverse effects on health
The European Food Safety Authority EFSA has assessed the effect of exposure to acrylamide on consumers’ health . According to the assessment, acrylamide may cause an increased cancer risk to consumers. However, the relationship between acrylamide intake via food and people’s morbidity is unclear and no direct causality has been shown. Based on EFSA’s conclusions, however, there is a need to reduce exposure to acrylamide.
Maximum level in foodstuffs
At present, no maximum level has been set for acrylamide in foods. The Commission’s Acrylamide Regulation (EU) 2017/2158 requires that food manufacturers implement mitigation measures which have an effect on acrylamide levels.