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Food Safety Focus (164th Issue, March 2020) – Food Incident Highlight

Air Fryers and Acrylamide

Air fryers have been gaining popularity. The kitchen appliances fry foods by circulating hot air around the food. Compared to conventional frying, air-frying requires lesser oil to produce meals of a similar taste and texture.

Recently, a consumer group in Korea reported that French fries prepared by air-frying at 200°C contained significant levels of a possible carcinogen, acrylamide. This report aroused some concerns. Acrylamide is formed between the naturally present free amino acid, asparagine, and reducing sugars (e.g. glucose and fructose) when food is heated at high temperatures (>120°C). In general, higher temperatures and longer cooking time will result in higher levels of acrylamide regardless of the cooking method. Many baked and fried foods, such as French fries, crisps and biscuits, contain relatively high levels of acrylamide.

Acrylamide can be reduced by not cooking food at a too high temperature for too long. Consumers should aim for a golden yellow colour or lighter when frying (including air frying), baking, toasting or roasting food.