The Food Standards Agency (FSA) will be surveying acrylamide levels this year as part of its ongoing programme. Depending on the levels found, the FSA may evaluate steps bakery manufacturers have taken to address contamination levels.

Following the news, both the Food and Drink Federation (FDF) its Biscuit, Cake, Chocolate and Confectionery Sector (BCCC) are urging those within the industry to continue to reduce acrylamide in their products. Acrylamide is known to cause cancer in animals, and it is believed that its presence in some foods could harm people’s health. It is formed when amino acid asparagine, present in proteins, is heated above 120ºC together with reducing sugars. The reaction that occurs leads to the production of acrylamide, alongside colour-forming (browning) and flavour-producing compounds, and is known as the Maillard reaction.

Martin Turton, manager of BCCC, told British Baker: “At present, legal control measures in relation to acrylamide do not exist. However, to ensure that companies and trade associations do everything possible to minimise the risk by implementing the FoodDrinkEurope Acrylamide Toolbox, the FDF and BCCC would strongly urge manufacturers to continue with their efforts at reducing acrylamide levels. If sufficient progress is demonstrated by the results of government monitoring exercises, this will not only achieve the reduction in acrylamide levels that is being sought, but it will also render additional regulation unnecessary.”

The FoodDrinkEurope Acrylamide Toolbox, which was updated last September, is a resource for food manufacturers to help reduce acrylamide levels. It incorporates the latest scientific research and feedback from food operators, and deals with three main ingredient types where acrylamide formation is most likely to occur – potatoes, cereals and coffee.

It also deals with four processes whereby levels of acrylamide could be affected, including agronomical, recipe, processing and final preparation.  

Acrylamide was first discovered in biscuits and snacks in 2002, when the European and UK authorities were investigating its formation and the implications for its presence in food. It can be found in baked and cooked products such as bread, crisps and crisp breads.

Turton added: “FDF members are acting on acrylamide, but the spectre of regulation hangs over the industry if we do not all – members and non-members alike – demonstrate that we are aware of and implementing the FDE toolbox.”

To download the FoodDrinkEurope Acrylamide Toolbox (PDF), visit: