Reducing the amount of acrylamide in food that people eat is not a simple task as it forms in so many different foods that are cooked or heated. The FSA has funded or supported a number of pieces of research and surveys to better understand the science behind acrylamide formation, occurrence in various foods, consumer exposure and how consumers may be affected by home cooking practices.
Acrylamide Total Diet Study
The FSA has undertaken a total diet study looking at acrylamide exposure for the UK population. The results confirm EFSA’s assessment that consumers are currently exposed to higher levels of acrylamide than is desirable and this may contribute to overall lifetime cancer risk. This confirms that efforts are required to try to bring down overall exposure for all consumers. This also provides a benchmark for UK-centred risk assessments.
The dietary exposure estimates for each food group presented in the 2014 Total Diet Study for acrylamide, shows that the miscellaneous cereals and potato food groups are the main sources of acrylamide in the UK diet across all age classes.
Acrylamide and Furan ongoing Surveillance
The FSA has been undertaking surveillance on acrylamide since 2007. The surveillance programme provides some indication of levels of acrylamide and also furan in UK retail foods. The analytical data obtained from the sampled key foods is shared with the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) for exposure and risk assessment purposes. It also contributes to the dataset used to determine the ‘indicative values’ (IV) for acrylamide that the European Commission sets.
Where an indicative value is exceeded local authority inspectors are requested by the FSA to follow this up with the manufacturer to try and establish why this happened and what is being done by the food business operator (FBO) to mitigate against the level of acrylamide found. This enables the FSA to better understand the level of engagement of food businesses and the complexities around acrylamide minimisation.
The most recent results published 23 January cover two full years (2014-15) of data and an analysis of any significant ongoing trends in acrylamide levels in the UK. There are no unexpected or unusual results and the number of (IV) exceedances of acrylamide is consistent with previous years.