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.

EFSA final aspartame evaluation as safe

Aspartame and its breakdown products are safe for human consumption at current levels of exposure, EFSA concludes in its first full risk assessment of this sweetener. To carry out its risk assessment, EFSA has undertaken a rigorous review of all available scientific research on aspartame and its breakdown products, including both animal and human studies.

 

“This opinion represents one of the most comprehensive risk assessments of aspartame ever undertaken. It’s a step forward in strengthening consumer confidence in the scientific underpinning of the EU food safety system and the regulation of food additives”, said the Chair of EFSA’s Panel on Food Additives and Nutrient Sources Added to Foods (ANS Panel), Dr Alicja Mortensen.

 

Experts of ANS Panel have considered all available information and, following a detailed analysis, have concluded that the current Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI) of 40mg/kg bw/day is protective for the general population. However, in patients suffering from the medical condition phenylketonuria (PKU), the ADI is not applicable, as they require strict adherence to a diet low in

 

English: aspartame; Asp-Phe methyl ester Deuts...
English: aspartame; Asp-Phe methyl ester Deutsch: Aspartam; Asp-Phe Methylester (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

(an amino acid found in proteins).

 

Following a thorough review of evidence provided both by animal and human studies, experts have ruled out a potential risk of aspartame causing damage to genes and inducing cancer. EFSA’s experts also concluded that aspartame does not harm the brain, the nervous system or affect behaviour or cognitive function in children or adults. With respect to pregnancy, the Panel noted that there was no risk to the developing fetus from exposure to phenylalanine derived from aspartame at the current ADI (with the exception of women suffering from PKU).

 

The opinion makes clear that the breakdown products of aspartame (phenylalanine, methanol and aspartic acid) are also naturally present in other foods (for instance, methanol is found in fruit and vegetables). The contribution of breakdown products of aspartame to the overall dietary exposure to these substances is low.

 

The opinion describes the criteria used to identify the studies relevant for the risk assessment and standards applied to evaluate the scientific evidence. EFSA’s experts examined all uncertainties related to the evaluation of aspartame. The opinion explains how these were addressed in the risk assessment to ensure that potential risks from aspartame were not underestimated.

 

The comprehensive review carried out by the ANS Panel was made possible following two public calls for data which made available a large body of scientific information, comprising both published and previously unpublished data and studies.

 

EFSA received over 200 comments during the public consultation on the draft opinion (that took place from 9 January 2013 to 15 February 2013) and all of these were considered. During the consultative phase EFSA also held a hearing with interested parties to discuss its draft opinion and the feedback received from the online public consultation. EFSA’s dialogue with stakeholders revealed that there were important aspects of the draft opinion that needed to be clarified in the final output.

 

EFSA is also publishing today the comments on the draft opinion received during the public consultation, its responses to the comments received and a statement on two recent publications, one from the US Environmental Protection Agency and the other Gift et al., that were brought to EFSA’s attention after the closure of the public consultation. Neither of these studies alters EFSA’s conclusion on aspartame.

 

 

(Source: EFSA Website)

 

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