Expect Acrylamide Issue to Flare Up Again

September 8, 2009
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Previously on the backburner, the acrylamide issue will likely heat up this fall.

That’s following last month’s Federal Register Notice that calls for food companies, including bakers and snack producers, to provide to the Food and Drug Administration with comments, scientific data and information on the practices they have used to reduce acrylamide in food. In addition, the FDA is asking food companies to document how much they have been able to reduce acrylamide levels.

The American Bakers Association, through its Food Technical Regulatory Affairs Committee, is expected to coordinate with other groups and provide FDA with comments and data prior to its deadline, which will come at the end of November, according to Lee Sanders, ABA’s senior vice president.

FDA is gathering the data to determine if it should create a proposal on mitigating the levels of acrylamide in foods, Sanders notes. Such a proposal, she estimates, would not come out until some time next year.

Although acrylamide has been found to be a carcinogenic in rodents and considered a potential carcinogen in humans, the FDA generally advises to eat a healthy diet of food that is consistent with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Acrylamide is found naturally in some foods, but high levels of acrylamide can occur when foods, including fried, roasted and baked foods where browning occurs, are exposed to high temperatures.

In 2002, Swedish scientists were first to announce the discovery of acrylamide in a variety of heated foods. The issue has more or less simmered for the last seven years with the scientific and medical communities searching for ways to assess the potential risks to humans and to decrease the amount of acrylamide in cooked foods.

According to the FDA, the Top 10 foods that have the highest level of acrylamide are, in order, fried French fries, oven-baked French fries, potato chips, breakfast cereals, cookies, brewed coffee, toast, pies and cakes, crackers and soft, non-toasted bread.

According to Sanders, the next significant step as part of the overall process involves the U.S. Health & Human Services, which is expected to publish the long-awaited draft of its Toxilogical Profile for Acrylamide on or around October 17. This profile will provide interpretation of available toxilogical and epidemiologic information and identification of toxilogical testing needed to identify the types or levels of exposure that may present significant risk of adverse human health effects.

For more information, contact the ABA at www.americanbakers.org or the Snack Food Association at www.sfa.org.

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