New guidance on reducing acrylamide levels in food released

March 15, 2016

Acrylamide is a chemical compound that naturally forms in starchy foods during high-temperature cooking, including frying, baking and roasting. It is caused by the same chemical reaction that also turns food brown during cooking, affecting its taste.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued final guidance on how growers, manufacturers, processors and food service operators can reduce levels of acrylamide in food products.

Acrylamide is a chemical compound that naturally forms in starchy foods during high-temperature cooking, including frying, baking and roasting. It is caused by the same chemical reaction that also turns food brown during cooking, affecting its taste.

According to the National Toxicology Program, the chemical is “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen”.

The FDA recommendations include cutting french fries in shapes with lower surface area to volume ratio and screening out small fragments. Using alternative coloration methods may also help reduce acrylamide by discouraging over-baking.

When processing sliced potato chips, increasing peel removal and washing or soaking the potato chips before frying may help reduce acrylamide. Decreasing frying temperatures to 175°C (347°F) or below and targeting higher moisture endpoints may also be effective. Similarly, lowering temperatures during final cooking stages and using techniques such as flash frying, vacuum frying or batch frying may help reduce levels of the chemical.

For cereal-based foods, the FDA recommends replacing ammonium bicarbonate in cookies and crackers with alternative leavening agents, while avoiding overall increases in sodium levels. Replacing reducing sugars with nonreducing sugars, using reducing sugars with lower fructose content and only adding sugar coatings to breakfast cereals after toasting may also help reduce acrylamide.

To see the recommendations in full, take a look at the FDA’s report.

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