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Acrylamide in Some Popular Foods

 

Introduction

The Centre for Food Safety (CFS) and the Consumer Council (CC) have analysed the acrylamide level in various foods which were previously found containing relatively high levels of acrylamide and/or popular in the local market. The dietary exposure to acrylamide in the local population has also been estimated.

The study

2. A total of 90 food samples were purchased from the local market, including 35 crispy snacks, 10 fried and baked potatoes, 39 biscuits and 6 breakfast cereals. They were subject to laboratory analysis for acrylamide level conducted by the Food Research Laboratory of the CFS.

3. Main findings of the study are summarised in Table 1:

Table 1: Summary of Main Results

Food products

No. of samples

Ranges of Acrylamide level (μg/kg)

Crispy snacks

Potato chips

12

160 – 3000

Taro chips

3

11 – 470

Prawn crackers

6

Not detected* – 330

Snack noodles

2

35 – 120

Corn chips

6

16 – 480

Rice crackers

3

6 – 39

Banana chips

3

74 – 190

Fried and baked potatoes

French fries and waffle fries

7

74 – 890

Baked potatoes

3

15 – 160

Biscuits

Cheese crackers

2

150 – 360

Digestive biscuits

3

170 – 250

Cookies

6

42 – 250

Soda crackers

5

39 – 200

Chocolate biscuits

2

47 – 150

Wafers

5

53 – 280

Sandwich crackers

4

61 – 510

Wheat crackers

5

87 – 390

Finger biscuits

5

32 – 370

Other snack type biscuits

2

130 – 2100

Breakfast cereals

Corn flakes

3

29 – 70

Bran cereals

3

59 – 460

* Not detected denotes acrylamide concentration is less than the limit of detection, 3μg/kg

4. Among the 35 crispy snack samples, in each 1 kg of food:

  • The acrylamide content ranged from not detected to 3000μg. Various factors may affect the acrylamide level in food e.g. composition and processing, the acrylamide level varied a lot among same kind of food.
  • Two potato chips were found to contain high level of acrylamide (1300μg and 3000μg). Measures e.g. using potatoes with low reducing sugar levels and optimising the cooking temperature and time may help reduce the acrylamide level in food.
  • Acrylamide was not detected in a prawn cracker sample made with tapioca starch.
  • In general, rice cracker samples contained relatively low level of acrylamide.

5. Among the 10 fried and baked potato samples, in each 1 kg of food:

  • The acrylamide content ranged from 15μg to 890μg. In general, thickly cut fried potatoes contained less acrylamide than thinly cut ones while baked potatoes contained less acrylamide than fried potatoes.

6. Among the 39 biscuit samples, in each 1 kg of food:

  • The acrylamide content ranged from 32μg to 2100μg. A snack type biscuit sample was found to contain high level of acrylamide (2100μg).

7. Among the 6 breakfast cereal samples, in each 1 kg of food:

  • The acrylamide content ranged from 29μg to 460μg. A bran cereal sample contained higher acrylamide level than other bran cereal samples. Higher acrylamide level may be due to the use of reducing sugars containing ingredients e.g. honey.

8. It is estimated that the dietary exposure to acrylamide in the average local population and high consumers (97.5th percentile) is 0.13μg/kg bw/day and 0.69μg/kg bw/day respectively. The corresponding MOE (Harderian gland tumours in mice) is calculated to be 1385 and 261 respectively. Since these MOEs are relatively lower than those of the other harmful substances formed during food processing, it is of public health concern. Efforts to reduce acrylamide levels in food should continue in the territory. Details of the exposure assessment are available at the CFS webpage:
http://www.cfs.gov.hk/english/programme/programme_rafs/programme_rafs_fc_01_25.html.


9. In order to provide recommendations to trade to prevent and reduce the formation of acrylamide in food, the CFS has drafted a set of Trade Guidelines on Reducing Acrylamide in Food. After consulting with the trade, the Guidelines will be distributed and uploaded to the CFS website for trade reference

A gland located behind the eyes; can be found in mice but not in humans

Advice to the Public

  • Do not over-heat food but ensure the food is cooked thoroughly.
  • Maintain a balanced diet i.e. eat more fruits and vegetables and to moderate the consumption of fried foods.

Advice to the Trade

  • Use ingredients which are low in asparagine and reducing sugars to produce products processed at high temperature.
  • Do not cook food excessively i.e. cooked for too long or at too high temperature.
  • Avoid compromising chemical and microbiological safety of the food when taking any acrylamide reduction measures; nutritional qualities also need to remain unimpaired, together with their organoleptic properties and associated consumer acceptability.
  • Make reference to the Guidelines established by the CFS and develop the most suitable methods to reduce acrylamide in foods, particularly potato and cereal products.

More Information

10. The related article is published in the CHOICE MAGAZINE (Issue 410 released on 15 December 2010) (Chinese only).

11. Please visit the CFS website for more information on acrylamide –


Risk Assessment Section
Centre for Food Safety
Food and Environmental Hygiene Department
December 2010

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Last Revision Date : 15-12-2010