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, by Stefan Fabiansson.

Food recalls in EU – Week 15 – 2014

This week on the RASFF database (Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed) we have four recalls from consumers in EU in the alert notification:

– Biocontaminants: histamine in chilled tuna fillet, following company’s own check. Origin French Polynesia (France), notified by France, distributed also to Switzerland;

– Foreign bodies: glass fragments and stones in honey roasted sunflower and pumpkin seeds, following an official control on the market. Origin Netherlands, notified by United Kingdom;

– Composition: too high content of Vitamin B6 in food supplement, following an official control on the market. Origin United States (via United Kingdom), notified by France;

– Allergens: undeclared mustard in salad sauce, following company’s own check. Origin Hungary, notified by Poland.

We have also two recalls, following information for attention notification:

– Heavy metals: mercury in frozen dogfish, following an official control on the market. Origin Spain, notified by Italy;

– Insufficient labeling: suffocation risk as a result of consumption in jelly cups, following an official control on the market. Origin Vietnam, notified by Germany;

Between the alert notifications, followed by a withdrawal from the market of the product, we find, amongst the others, the comeback of the Epatitis A from berry mix:

– Composition: high content of aluminium in seaweed noodles, following an official control on the market. Origin South Korea (via Netherlands), notified by Germany;

– Composition: too high content of Vitamin B6 in food supplement, following an official contro on the market. Origin United States (via Netherlands), notified by France;

– Foreign bodies: glass fragments and stones in shelled sunflower kernels, following company’s own check. Origin Netherlands (raw material from Bulgaria), notified by Sweden, distributed also to Belgium, Cyprus and Germany;

– Heavy metals: mercury in chilled swordfish fillets, following an official control on the market. Origin Spain, notified by Italy;

– Mycotoxins: fumonisins in organic maize flour, following an official control on the market. Origin Italy (via France), notified by Germany, distributed also to Austria;

– Pathogenic micro-organisms: foodborne outbreak suspected (Hepatitis A) from berry mix buttermilk cake, following a food poisoning. Origin Germany, notified by Norway;

– Pathogenic micro-organisms: Listeria Monocytogenes in cooked head of pork, following an official control on the market. Origin Italy, notified by Italy, distributed also to Austria;

– Pathogenic micro-organisms: Salmonella enteritidis in fresh/frozen poultry meat, following company’s own check. Origin Poland, notified by Poland, distributed also to Bulgaria and United Kingdom.

Moreover, we have another alert notification, without recall or withdrawal from the market, for Hepatitis A:

– Pathogenic micro-organisms: virus of Hepatitis A in mixed frozen berries, following a food poisoning. Origin Poland and Bulgaria (via Belgium), notified by

Regarding border rejections we have, among the others, Salmonella Spp. in frozen salted chicken breast halves from Brazil, shigatoxin-producing Escherichia coli in frozen beef from Brazil, norovirus  in frozen cooked whole white clams from Vietnam, aflatoxins in shelled almonds from the United States, pistachio kernels from Iran (dispatched from Turkey) and in organic nutmeg powder from India, attempt to illegally import or absence of Common Entry Document (CED) for paan leaves from India and Bangladesh, absence or improper health certificate(s) for seaweed and senbei rice crackers from Hong Kong, for fish sauce from Thailand, for peanut and tamarind chutney from India and for cashew and almond whole fruit and nut bar from Canada (via United States), high content of aluminium in brakeroot vermicelli from China, triazophos in okras from India, fenitrothion in black olives in brine from Egypt, procymidone in fresh peppers from Turkey, acephate in basmati parboiled rice from India, coffee from Brazil infested with mouldscadmium in frozen Pacific flying squids from China, unauthorised use of colour E 127 – erythrosine in pickled ginger from Thailand, unauthorised substances tin, germanium, cobalt, vanadium and strontium in food supplement, unauthorised novel food meshima mushroom (Phellinus linteus) to be used in food supplements, unauthorised placing on the market of food supplement containing Juglans nigra and  unauthorised novel food ingredient clinoptilolite in food supplements from the United States, salicylic acid and undeclared colour E 102 – tartrazine in candies with corn flavour from China, triazophos, acetamiprid, imidacloprid and fipronil and unauthorised substance diafenthiuron in green tea from China.

For feed, we have several information for attention notification, for unauthorised genetically modified (Bt63 rice) choline chloride 60 % from China.

For food contact materials we have an information for follow up followed by a recall from consumers:

– Migration: outer coating coming off from bakeware rectangular roasters, following a consumer complaint. Origin China (via Hong Kong), notified by Greece, distributed also to Bulgaria and Cyprus.  

Related articles