The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has presented its draft guidance on acrylamide in food. The chemical is believed to be potentially harmful to human health.

Acrylamide is formed as a result of a chemical reaction when certain types of foods are fried, roasted or baked at high temperatures. Most frequently, the chemical is formed when potatoes and cereal products are cooked. However, there is no scientific agreement as to whether the chemical is a human carcinogen.

The federal agency has identified a series of possible approaches that farmers, manufacturers and food service operators can adopt to reduce the amount of acrylamide in food. Suggestions listed by the FDA cover potato exposure to chemicals, the maturity of the crops, the way they are transported, stored and peeled, blanching methods for french fries, etc.

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However, the FDA does not specify what the maximum level of the chemical should be or what exposure to acrylamide can be considered potentially dangerous. The agency points out that producers should be aware of the level of acrylamide that their production contains, explaining that this knowledge will help assess whether acrylamide reduction techniques are effective. The actual level of the chemical may vary even among products prepared in identical ways, so the agency will be asking for extensive sampling.

The draft recommendations are open for public comment.