Just 12% of UK consumers are aware of acrylamide, according to a new study.

The survey by DSM Global Insights Series has revealed that 54% of people in Germany were aware of acrylamide, compared to just 12% in France, the UK and the US.

Researchers also found that 70% of consumers who are aware of the chemical are concerned about the potential health effects.

Sixty-four per cent of these informed consumers had decided to take action to reduce their acrylamide consumption, such as by adjusting their cooking behaviour.

Around half of those surveyed believed the responsibility for acrylamide levels in the products they bought sat with food manufacturers, and just 28% believed regulators should take responsibility.

Many food manufacturers have already taken significant steps to reduce acrylamide levels in their products, but the regulatory change and increasing public awareness about acrylamide is prompting further action.

The results of the survey show there is still room for the food industry to claim a leadership role in acrylamide reduction, said DSM.

Acrylamide, which is a chemical created when foods such as bread and potatoes are cooked for long periods at high temperatures, has been shown in lab tests to cause cancer in animals, and while evidence from human studies on the impact of acrylamide in the diet has been inconclusive, scientific consensus is that it has the potential to cause cancer in humans.

In April this year, new EU laws were put into place to establish best practice for acrylamide reduction in food businesses. For the baking industry, this refers to any business that produces or places on the market foods including bread, biscuits, rusks, cereal bars, scones, waffles, crumpets, gingerbread, crackers, crispbreads and bread substitutes.

Subscribers to British Baker can read legal expert John Mitchell’s view on the impact of the new legislation here.