Acrylamide is a chemical substance formed by a reaction between amino acids and sugars. It is found in a wide variety of foods such as chips, roast potatoes, crisps, toast, cakes, biscuits, cereals and coffee.
Concern regarding the carcinogenic potential of acrylamide has eventually led to new legislation that comes into force in April 2018. Commission Regulation (EU) No 2017/2158 requires that food business operators apply the acrylamide mitigation measures set in the Annexes in this Regulation.
When foods with a high starch content are fried, roasted or baked at high temperatures over 120°C acrylamide is formed.
The recommendation for cooking food with a high starch level is to “go for gold” as generally, the darker the appearance of a starchy product, the higher the acrylamide level is found to be.
It is advised that the temperature of cooking oil should be 175°C or lower. Oils that allow foods to be cooked faster and if possible at lower temperatures are recommended. You can check your oil temperature using Comark’s C22 Thermometer with an IT21L Deep Fat Probe.
Your food safety management system should identify the hazard where acrylamide could be formed. Standard operational procedures to manage acrylamide formation should be put in place so staff know how to reduce the risk.
They should be educated about acrylamide formation and the part they play in managing levels to as low as reasonably achievable. Controls such as temperature checks and correct cooking procedures can form part of measures put in place to keep the level of acrylamide in the foods you produce as low as possible.
Where food business operators have already applied measures, they have seen reductions in acrylamide levels in their products.
Home cooks concerned about the acrylamide levels in the food they produce can also take precautions. Potatoes should not be stored in the fridge as lower temperatures can cause more free sugars in the potatoes that can lead to higher acrylamide levels. When cooking toast, chips or roast potatoes, make sure they are cooked to a golden colour rather than brown.