EUROPE— The European Union (EU) recently added more products to its acrylamide monitoring system, broadening the list of baked goods to include pita and specialty breads, pancakes, tortillas, churros, donuts and croissants.
“Acrylamide is a highly carcinogenic substance produced in food while being cooked, which we find in foods consumed by our children and young people, such as biscuits wafers breakfast cereal products and crisps,” stresses Floriana Cimmarusti, secretary general of Safe Food Advocacy Europe (EFSA).
Based on animal studies, this chemical substance that forms when starchy foods are cooked at temperatures above 1200C is thought to increase the risk of developing cancer for consumers of all age groups.
The average daily intake of acrylamide in children ranged between 0.5 and 1.9 micro grams per kg of body weight in 2015, according to an EFSA study.
The same study estimates that the average intake among adolescents, adults, the elderly, and the very elderly, was between 0.4 and 0.9 micro grams per kg of body weight per day.
Acrylamide levels across the EU have been subject to a benchmark system since 2018. Under the system, food and beverage manufacturers need to aim for as low as reasonably achievable (ALARA) arylamide levels.
The EU has also been considering new legislation on acrylamide levels that would introduce maximum limits across member states.
The legislation also proposes new targets for monitoring, including root vegetable fries, fruit crisps, cocoa powder and potato-based dishes.
The regulations currently under consideration would adjust these benchmarks and introduce maximum levels alongside them.
Based on member states’ data in the European Food Safety Authority’s European food consumption database, currently, approximately 15% of values obtained across member states are above the benchmark.
Additionally, approximately 5% of values would be above the proposed maximum levels and if products were to exceed maximum levels it is likely they would have to stop marketing them or they could be recalled.
A draft table was sent to member states early in June 2021 and the final draft will likely be available around mid-2022.
Following standing committee voting, this will be presented for approval. Allowing for a further year’s transition period, the legislation if passed, could come into force sometime in 2023.
Food businesses are advised to consider preparing to comply with the proposed legislation by reviewing their products against proposed maximum levels to identify those of concern.
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