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Acrylamide and furan survey results published

Today we are publishing the results from our latest study looking at levels of acrylamide and furan in an extensive range of UK retail foods.

Last updated: 22 Mehefin 2018

The levels of acrylamide and furan found over the period of January to December 2017 do not increase our concern about the risk to human health. We will not be changing our advice to consumers.

Based on samples taken from 271 products collected between January 2017 and December 2017, the survey gives a snapshot of the range of acrylamide and furan levels in UK retail foods. Of the 271 products sampled, 269 were analysed for acrylamide and 120 analysed for furan.

This study is part of an on-going programme, in response to European Commission recommendations to all member states to investigate the levels of acrylamide and furan in food.

As with previous years, the survey results for acrylamide and furan will be sent to European Food Standards Agency for collation, trend analysis and, in the case of furan, a risk assessment. Where an acrylamide level has exceeded an indicative value in our survey, the FSA will ask the relevant local authority to investigate with the food business on what action may have already been taken to limit acrylamide formation and to see whether further action is possible.

Indicative values are performance indicators to verify the effectiveness of actions businesses have taken to keep levels as low as reasonably achievable. This is not a maximum level and will not to be used for enforcement purposes.

Acrylamide is a chemical that is created when many foods, particularly starchy foods like potatoes and bread, are cooked for long periods at high temperatures, such as when baking, frying, grilling, toasting and roasting. 

Furan can be produced in food and drink when naturally occurring sugars, polyunsaturated fats and ascorbic acid (vitamin c) degrade when they are heat treated.