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Acrylamid in Short

Swedish scientists reported findings of acrylamide in a large number of foodstuffs in April 2002. Acrylamide is formed when food is produced and processed, both in industry and at home, if the food contains reduced sugar (glucose, fructose) and the amino acid asparagine. These components are present, in particular, in cereals and potatoes, and they have to react with each other for acrylamide to be formed. Acrylamide is formed in particular with heat over 120 °C, which occurs while food is roasted or deep-fried. The amount to which acrylamide is formed depends on the time of heating and the food's water content. It is not yet clear whether acrylamide is also formed from other components of foodstuffs.

The amount to which acrylamide will actually be formed can hardly be known in advance because of the variety of factors on which it depends. Some factors of influence, such as raw materials or processing techniques, are examined in various studies, some with positive results. The aim is to develop processing and preparation techniques which would lead to less formation of acrylamide in foodstuffs.

Acrylamide has been found carcinogenic and mutagenic in animal tests. The carcinogenic effect is believed to act by a genotoxic mechanism. However, data are not enough to make a final risk assessment of potential dangers of acrylamide to man.

It is therefore neither to be toxicologically substantiated nor technically feasible to set a limit for acrylamide in foods. The best strategy to protect consumers will be to try and avoid acrylamide formation in the processing and preparation of foods as far and as soon as possible, irrespective of current health evaluations of actual acrylamide contents.

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