Acrylamide levels in food have seen no significant changes since the European Food Safety Authority’s (EFSA) last annual update, it reported today.

The fourth report of its kind covered the monitoring period 2007-2010, with data collected from samples of food from 25 European countries.

Downward trends were apparent in some sub-categories, including ‘non-potato based savoury snacks’, and ‘biscuits and rusks for infants and young children’. However, rises were recorded in the the sub-category ‘crisp bread’ – 42% between 2007 and 2010 – and the ‘coffee and coffee substitutes’ category.

Of the soft breads tested, only 3% were found to have acrylamide levels above the ‘recommended indicative values’, in 2010, while 12% of the samples in the biscuits, crackers, and crisp bread category were above this level.

EFSA said that since 2008, the number of samples submitted has declined, which has limited the reliability of the trend analysis. A total of 13,162 acrylamide results were submitted during the four-year monitoring period from 2007 to 2010.

The UK submitted samples from 20 soft bread products, but none for the biscuits, crackers and crisp bread category, in 2010.

Acrylamide is a chemical compound that typically forms in starchy food products such as potato crisps, bread, biscuits and coffee, during high-temperature processing, including frying, baking and roasting, and is known to be be both carcinogenic and genotoxic.