Acrylamide And Furan In Foods
he Food Standards Agency has published results from its latest study looking at levels of process contaminants acrylamide and furan in a range of UK foods.
The report shows an upward trend in acrylamide levels in processed cereal-based baby foods (excluding rusks), and a reduction in other products, such as pre-cooked French fries, potato products for home cooking and bread during 2007-2011. The levels of acrylamide and furan reported do not increase concern about the risk to human health and the Agency has not changed its advice to consumers.
Based on samples taken from 248 products, the survey gives a snapshot of the range of acrylamide and furan levels in UK retail foods.
The Agency advises that chips should be cooked to a light golden colour. Bread and bread products should also be toasted to the lightest colour possible. Further information on eating a balanced diet can be found at the NHS Choices link below and advice on how to minimise acrylamide levels is in our section on acrylamide.
As with previous years, the survey results for acrylamide and furan will be sent to the European Food Safety Authority for collation, trend analysis and, in the case of furan, a risk assessment.
This Food Survey Information Sheet (below) reports the results obtained over the period November 2010 - April 2011, which is the fourth year of a rolling programme to measure the levels of the process contaminants acrylamide and furan in a range of UK retail foodstuffs.
The total number of retail products sampled during the survey was 248 and represented the 10 food groups as specified in Commission Recommendation (EU) No. 2010/307 on the monitoring of acrylamide in food. The number of analyses carried out was 248 for acrylamide and 92 for furan.
As with previous years’ data, the acrylamide and furan results from this UK survey have been sent to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) for collation with other Member States’ survey data, trend analysis within the EU and, in the case of furan, a risk assessment.
Statistical analyses carried out by the Agency on UK surveillance data, during the period 2007-2011, suggest that there may be an upward trend in acrylamide levels in processed cereal-based baby foods (excluding rusks) and a reduction in acrylamide in some other products such as pre-cooked French fries/potato products for home-cooking and bread. For most products we found no evidence of trends.
Given the relatively small number of products sampled for the UK surveys and the magnitude of these observed trends, it is not possible at this stage to draw any definitive conclusions and therefore further investigation by the Agency may be required to try and establish if changes in manufacturing practice are having the desired effect.
Of the 248 products analysed for acrylamide during the 2010-2011 survey, 13 products were found to contain acrylamide levels that exceeded the ‘indicative value’ (IV) for their food group. Where an acrylamide level has exceeded an IV, the Agency has asked the relevant local authority to investigate.
The number and range of products analysed for furan were increased for the 2010-2011 survey. Products found to contain the lowest levels of furan were potato crisps, instant coffee and coffee substitutes. The highest levels of furan were found in sweet popcorn and roast coffee. This may possibly be due to differences in levels of natural occurring furan precursors in these products and/or their higher processing temperatures. However, no definitive conclusions can be drawn at this stage particularly regarding trends in the levels of furan and additional surveys being undertaken during 2011-2013 will help provide the Agency with further information.
Source: Food Standards Agency