Carcinogenic acrylamide in fries and co: new EU regulation comes into force
Last year, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) confirmed that acrylamide in food potentially increases cancer risk for consumers of all ages. Now a new acrylamide regulation passed by the EU comes into force. This is intended to reduce the harmful substance, which is mainly found in fried, roasted and baked products.
New rules to contain the substance that is considered carcinogenic
The acrylamide regulation passed by the EU will come into force on Wednesday, April 11th. From now on, food manufacturers as well as restaurants and snack bars across Europe must comply with the new rules for containing the carcinogenic substance acrylamide for the production and processing of potato products, bread and pastries, breakfast cereals, baby food, coffee and coffee substitute products. Consumers can also take precautions.
Acrylamide in food
Acrylamide has long been suspected of causing cancer.
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) had warned years ago about the increased cancer risk from acrylamide in food.
Last year, EFSA issued a scientific opinion confirming that acrylamide in food potentially increases the risk of cancer for consumers of all ages.
The British Food Standards Agency (FSA) also reports on its website that this substance has been shown to be carcinogenic in studies in animals, but no such evidence is available in humans.
Dangerous substance arises when heated excessively
Acrylamide is formed when strong starchy foods are heated.
“This is due to sugars such as glucose and fructose, the amino acid asparagine, temperatures above 120 degrees Celsius and a low water content in the food. The duration of heating and the storage conditions of the food also play a role, ”explains the consumer advice center on its website.
“High temperatures from 150 degrees Celsius brown food when baking, roasting and deep-frying. This creates the desired aromas and flavors - but also acrylamide, which even forms an abrupt rise from temperatures of 170 to 180 degrees Celsius, ”it says.
High levels of acrylamide found
In the past, high levels of acrylamide were often found in examinations in chips, fried potatoes and frozen fries.
"Potato products such as chips, potato pancakes and French fries as well as cereal products such as crispbread, crackers and cookies have the highest acrylamide content," the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) wrote in a message.
Depending on the degree of roasting, coffee also contains more or less acrylamide. As a result, coffee product providers in California will have to warn of potential cancer risks in the future.
Health experts welcome the new regulation
Among other things, the new EU regulations now stipulate that fries should not be over-fried and that bread should be baked as lightly as possible.
In addition, food will have to be manufactured in the future in such a way that as little acrylamide as possible can be produced by baking, roasting, frying and roasting.
Health experts such as CDU MEP Peter Liese welcome the new regulation.
On his website, he points out that it is virtually uncontroversial in science that "that doses of acrylamide, which many people consume, increases the risk of developing cancer."
“It is a real health problem. The amounts that in particular adolescents and young adults consume are considerable, ”says Liese.
As it says on its website, the economic sectors concerned, such as the Central Association of the Bakery Industry or the European Association of Hotels and Restaurants, also support the regulation.
Gentler preparation of food
The representative also points out the importance of better educating the population.
“A large part of the acrylamide pollution comes from self-prepared dishes. Every citizen can do something for their health here, for example by preparing toast, fries or fried potatoes. ”
The consumer advice center has summarized some recommendations on its website. Above all, the following applies: "Avoid highly loaded products or only rarely consume them."
When croquettes, toasted bread, baked bread rolls etc. are prepared, the rule of "gilding" should be observed instead of "charred".
Careful preparation is particularly important for potato products. When baking in the oven there is a greater risk of acrylamide formation than deep-frying.
The frying time should be limited to about 3.5 minutes and the fryer should be set to a maximum of 175 degrees Celsius.
The experts warn: "According to the current state of knowledge, the formation of acrylamide in food preparation cannot be completely avoided." (Ad)