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Acrylamide in food is public health concern, says EFSA


July 14, 2014
By Bakers Journal

July 14, 2014, Europe – The European Food Safety Authority has confirmed
previous evaluations that acrylamide in food potentially increases the
risk of developing cancer for consumers in all age groups.

July 14, 2014, Europe – The European Food Safety Authority has confirmed previous evaluations that acrylamide in food potentially increases the
risk of developing cancer for consumers in all age groups.

Acrylamide in
food is produced by the same chemical reaction that “browns” food –
also making it tastier – during everyday high temperature (+150 C)
cooking in the home, catering and food manufacturing. Coffee, fried
potato products, biscuits, crackers and crisp breads, soft bread and
certain baby foods are important dietary sources of acrylamide. On a
body weight basis, children are the most exposed age groups. European
and national authorities already recommend reducing acrylamide in food
as much as possible and provide dietary and food preparation advice to
consumers and food producers.

The EFSA 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). Until Sept. 15, scientists and other interested parties can comment on the
draft opinion through an online public consultation. Before finalizing
their opinion, members of the CONTAM panel will discuss this feedback
together with the contributors to the online public consultation at a
public meeting later this year.

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The chair of the CONTAM panel, Dr. Diane Benford, explained in a media statement key
aspects of the panel’s draft: "Acrylamide consumed orally is absorbed
from the gastrointestinal tract, distributed to all organs and
extensively metabolised. Glycidamide, one of the main metabolites from
this process, is the most likely cause of the gene mutations and tumours
seen in animal studies.” Dr. Benford pointed out that “so far, human
studies on occupational and dietary exposure to acrylamide have provided
limited and inconsistent evidence of increased risk of developing
cancer."

Besides cancer, the panel also considered possible harmful effects of
acrylamide on the nervous system, pre- and post-natal development and
male reproduction. These effects were not considered to be a concern,
based on current levels of dietary exposure.

The draft opinion includes preliminary recommendations on future
research on acrylamide involving humans and also detection and risk
assessment methods for germ cell mutation. Data collection activities
can also be improved, particularly to provide a more accurate indication
of acrylamide levels in food produced and consumed at home.

The deadline for final adoption of the opinion is June 2015. Once
finalized, EFSA’s scientific advice will support European and national
decision-makers to consider possible measures to further reduce consumer
exposure to this substance in food. These may include, for example,
advice on eating habits and home-cooking, or controls on commercial food
production; however, EFSA plays no direct role in deciding such
measures.