Acrylamide in food is a public health concern, says EFSA draft

Based on animal studies, EFSA 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 during everyday high temperature (+150°C) cooking in the home, catering and food manufacturing. 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.

EFSA is launching a public consultation on its draft scientific opinion on acrylamide in food, developed by its Panel on Contaminants in the Food Chain (CONTAM). Until 15 September, scientists and other interested parties can comment on the draft opinion through an online public consultation. Before finalising 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.

Chair of the CONTAM Panel, Dr Diane Benford, explains, “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.

“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 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.

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