Acrylamide evaluations in EU and USA – FDA Final Guidance on reduction in certain foods

On 4 June 2015, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) published its first full risk assessment of acrylamide in food. Experts from EFSA’s Panel on Contaminants in the Food Chain (CONTAM) reconfirmed previous evaluations that acrylamide in food potentially increases the risk of developing cancer for consumers in all age groups.

Evidence from animal studies shows that acrylamide and its metabolite glycidamide are genotoxic and carcinogenic: they damage DNA and cause cancer. Evidence from human studies that dietary exposure to acrylamide causes cancer is currently limited and inconclusive. To know more about the situation in EU click here or download EFSA’s infographic.

Last week the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued final guidance to the food industry to help growers, manufacturers and food service operators take steps to reduce levels of acrylamide in certain foods.

Acrylamide is a chemical that may form in certain foods during high-temperature cooking, such as frying, roasting and baking. The National Toxicology Program (an interagency program that evaluates possible health risks associated with exposure to certain chemicals) characterizes the substance as “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen.” And efforts to reduce acrylamide levels are already underway in many sectors of the food industry.

To help mitigate potential human health risks, the FDA’s guidance recommends that companies be aware of the levels of acrylamide in the foods they produce and consider adopting approaches, if feasible, that reduce acrylamide in their products. The guidance also offers a range of steps that growers, manufacturers, and food service operators may take to help reduce acrylamide levels.

For instance, for french fries, the recommended maximum cooking temperature for frying is 345-350 ºF/approximately 170-175 ºC (Refs. 30, 43). Providing appropriate cooking instructions on frozen french fry packages may help reduce acrylamide formation safely during final preparation by consumers and food service operators. Examples of such instructions (which may not be applicable to all products) are:

• Cook to a light golden color. Avoid browning fries.

• Avoid overcooking or undercooking.

• Avoid cooking in a toaster oven to prevent overcooking.

• Reduce cooking time when cooking small amounts.

Through this guidance and various research activities, the FDA is helping companies reduce acrylamide and reduce any potential risks to human health. The focus of this non-binding guidance is on raw materials, processing practices, and ingredients pertaining to potato-based foods (such as french fries and potato chips), cereal-based foods (such as cookies, crackers, breakfast cereals and toasted bread), and coffee, all sources of acrylamide exposure.

Because acrylamide is found primarily in potato-based foods, cereal-based foods, and coffee, the FDA’s best advice for consumers to help limit acrylamide intake is to adopt a healthy eating plan, consistent with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, that:

• Emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products;
• Includes lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs, and nuts; and
• Limits saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, salt (sodium) and added sugars.

Additional advice to consumers pertaining to acrylamide, including recommended food storage and preparation methods, is available on FDA website.

See also: Acrylamide – Nothing seems to help on focusonfoodsafety.wordpress.com, by Stefan Fabiansson.

FDA revises proposed Nutrition Facts label rule to include a daily value for added sugars

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today proposed including the percent daily value (%DV) for added sugars on the Nutrition Facts label of packaged foods, giving consumers additional information for added sugars similar to information they have seen for decades with respect to nutrients such as sodium and certain fats. The percent daily value indicates how much a nutrient in a serving of food contributes to a daily diet and would help consumers make informed choices for themselves and their families. The percent daily value would be based on the recommendation that the daily intake of calories from added sugars not exceed 10 percent of total calories.

The proposed rule is a supplement to the March 3, 2014 proposed rule on updating the Nutrition Facts label, under which the FDA proposed that food companies include added sugars on the Nutrition Facts label. The proposed rule did not include the declaration of the percent daily value for added sugars.

The 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) recently summarized scientific data related to added sugars. The FDA considered the scientific evidence that the DGAC used, which showed that it is difficult to meet nutrient needs while staying within calorie requirements if one exceeds 10 percent of total calories from added sugar, and has determined that this information supports this daily value for added sugars. The DGAC also recommended that Americans limit their added sugars intake to less than 10 percent of total calories; this and other recommendations from the DGAC, which is an independent advisory committee, will be considered in the development of the final 2015 Dietary Guidelines.

The FDA’s initial proposal to include the amount of added sugars on the Nutrition Facts label is now further supported by newly reviewed studies suggesting healthy dietary patterns, including lower amounts of sugar-sweetened foods and beverages, are strongly associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. When sugars are added to foods and beverages to sweeten them, they add calories without providing additional nutrients.

“The FDA has a responsibility to give consumers the information they need to make informed dietary decisions for themselves and their families,” said Susan Mayne, Ph.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. “For the past decade, consumers have been advised to reduce their intake of added sugars, and the proposed percent daily value for added sugars on the Nutrition Facts label is intended to help consumers follow that advice.”

The current label requires the percent daily value be listed for total fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium, total carbohydrate, dietary fiber, calcium and iron.

The FDA is also proposing to change the current footnote on the Nutrition Facts label to help consumers understand the percent daily value concept. The proposed statement on the label would be shorter than the current footnote to allow for more space on the label, stating:

*The percent daily value (%DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a serving of food contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.

The FDA is seeking public comment on the proposal for 75 days. The agency continues to review comments received on the 2014 proposed rule and is reopening the comment period on its March 2014 proposal for 60 days to invite public comment on two consumer studies related to label formats. The agency will consider comments on the original and this supplemental proposed rule before issuing a final rule. The proposed rule on serving size requirements, also issued in March 2014, is not affected by the supplemental proposed rule on the Nutrition Facts label released today.

In addition, the FDA is also releasing results of its consumer studies on the declaration of added sugars and the footnote and on the label format. As part of the March 3, 2014 proposed rule, FDA proposed updating the format of the Nutrition Facts panel and continues to consider the comments received on this proposal as it develops the final rule. Based on comments received to the proposed rule and the consumer studies’ results, the FDA does not intend to pursue the alternative graphic format for the Nutrition Facts label at this time.