UK – The European Union’s regulations are set to become into law, requiring food manufacturers to reduce the amount of acrylamide used in packaged foods including biscuits, cookies and coffee.

The regulation reduces the amount of acrylamide permissible for various food products, ranging from 350 micrograms (μg) of acrylamide per kilogram for biscuits and cookies to 750μg per kilogram for potato crisps and 850μg per kilogram for instant soluble coffee.

EU established the new food safety regulation in November 2017 targeting lower acrylamide used in foods after the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) determined that acrylamide in food potentially increases the risk of cancer for consumers of all ages.

Acrylamide is proven to be carcinogenic with severe health risks in children whose diets compose mainly of carbohydrates, a precursor that combines with naturally occurring amino acid asparagine to form acrylamide.

It affects businesses operating in deep fried products such as French fries, bread, breakfast cereals, fine bakery items, coffee, baby food and processed cereal-based foods for infants or children.

Acrylamide forms from asparagine and sugars at higher temperatures, more than 120°C mainly in baked or fried carbohydrate-rich foods e.g. cereals, potatoes and coffee beans.

Highest amounts of acrylamide are said to be contained in fried potato products like fries, potato chips and hash browns while toasted bread can have up to ten times as much acrylamide as untoasted bread.

EU regulations are closer to California’s Proposition 65 law, which requires sellers of food products to inform customers on the presence of any listed substance or carcinogen like acrylamide in ready-to-drink coffee.

The proposed sugar taxes in UK and Ireland aimed to reduce sugar consumption in foods and drinks, a way the governments were embarking on to reduce health risks including obesity and diabetes.

The extra regulatory pressure gives way to mandatory procedure that has to be followed by food manufacturers, at the same time accelerating the industry’s acrylamide reduction efforts.

Orkla Food Ingredients in February extended its licensing agreement with Renaissance BioScience to extend the sale of acrylamide-reducing yeast to new markets in Poland, Czech Republic and Slovakia.

DSM, the German maker of health and nutrition ingredients also makes PreventASe acrylamide reduction ingredient to supply manufacturers of baked goods, snacks and cereals, who are taking steps in mitigating acrylamide in their products.