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.

Written QeA to EU Commission – Traceability of milk powder

Question for written answer
to the Commission
Aldo Patriciello (PPE)

10th September 2014

Subject:  Traceability and indication of milk powder

In the last two decades the demand for ‘mozzarella’, that is to say, the product with a protected designation of origin, has increased enormously, and producers have consequently had to deal with a situation in which the demand for milk has exceeded supply.

In some European countries, therefore, the milk is made from milk powder (which is recycled and used several times) and then sold to producers.

This fact also implies that milk powder should be identifiable and traceable.

In the light of the foregoing, does not the Commission believe that, to avoid the continued use of recycled powdered milk, inspection and traceability procedures (as well as indication procedures) should be laid down for milk powder?

Answer given by Mr Borg on behalf of the Commission – 30th October 2014

Mozzarella benefiting from a protected geographical indication must respect very strict manufacturing requirements. As such, milk powder cannot be used in the production of such mozzarella products.

However, milk powder, produced in dairy plants approved under EC law, may be used in the manufacturing process of non-protected mozzarella.

Under Regulation (EC) No 178/2002, any food (including food ingredients) must be safe. If a food or food ingredient is not safe, it must not be used in any food manufacturing process.

The abovementioned Regulation also requires the traceability of any substance intended to be, or expected to be, incorporated into a food at all stages of production, processing and distribution. In that respect, it requires food business operators to be able to identify from whom and to whom a product has been supplied as well as to have systems and procedures in place that allow traceability information to be made available to the competent authorities upon request.

Finally, Directive 2000/13/EC does not require a list of ingredients in the case of cheese, provided that no ingredient has been added other than lactic products, enzymes and micro-organism cultures essential to manufacture, or the salt needed for the manufacture of cheese other than fresh cheese and processed cheese.

(Source: European Parliament website)