Reduce Acrylamide – Go for Gold

Few years ago Centre for Food Safety once announced that potato chips contained a carcinogenic substance called “acrylamide”. This scared lots of potato chips fans. Indeed many foods with high starch content (e.g. dark brown sugar, French fries, etc.) under high temperature treatment (over 120oC)such as frying, baking or coffee subject to roasting will also form this carcinogenic substance.

Image Source: FSA, 2017, https://www.food.gov.uk/science/acrylamide-0

Recently, UK Food Standard Agency is launching a campaign to “Go for Gold”. It offers advice to consumers on minimizing the levels of acrylamide in home cooking:

1. Go for Gold

Aim for a golden yellow colour (or lighter) when frying, baking, toasting or roasting starchy foods. Avoid charred foods (which means over-heated).

2. Check the Pack

Strictly follow cooking instructions on the pack, to ensure starchy foods are neither cooked for too long nor at temperatures which are too high.

3. Don’t keep raw potatoes in the fridge

Storing raw potatoes in a fridge will lead to formation of more free sugars, which will react with amino acids in food to form large amount of acrylamide. As such, raw potatoes should be stored in a dark, cool place at temperatures above 6 oC.

Image Source: FSA, 2017, https://www.food.gov.uk/science/acrylamide-0

4. Eat a varied and balanced diet

Complete avoidance of acrylamide intake from food is impossible. Eating a healthy, balanced diet (including appropriate amount of starchy carbohydrates) can lower and diversify your cancer risk resulting from dietary intake of acrylamide.

Regulatory requirements for Acrylamide

To date, many countries and territories including Hong Kong still have not specified an acceptable limit of acrylamide present in food. In contrast, European Union (EU) already established indicative acrylamide values (action levels) for different types of food in 2013.  It is recently reported that EU will set more stringent levels for acrylamide in ready-to-eat foods (including baby foods, crisps and breakfast cereals, etc.). This shall further drive the food trade to strictly follow the “guidelines in reducing acrylamide level in food” prepared by the government or Codex, as well as evaluate and benchmark the efficacy of measures adopted.

 

Info source: 2013/647/EU Commission Recommendation of 8 November 2013 on investigations into the levels of acrylamide in food

http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX%3A32013H0647

by Food Safety Specialist

YY Tsang

 

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