FSA’s latest Chief Scientific Advisor’s Report focusses on acrylamide
4 November 2015 • Author(s): Victoria White
The new report is the second in a regular series of science updates from Chief Scientific Advisor Professor Guy Poppy.
Acrylamide is a chemical contaminant that forms in certain foods during cooking. The FSA has been working with the food industry to reduce levels of acrylamide in processed foods and have long-standing advice to consumers on how to minimise the risks when cooking at home. The report looks at how the chemical was first identified, what the risks are to consumers, and how the FSA and industry are reacting to this risk.
Professor Guy Poppy says: “The background to the research that identified acrylamide in food provides an interesting example of how chance observations can be important in scientific discovery. That initial finding has prompted much additional research into how and where acrylamide forms in food, expert assessment of the risks, and consideration of how best to protect the health of consumers.
“Consumers are becoming increasingly aware of some of the microbiological risks associated with food. I hope that this report helps to demonstrate that we are working with other government departments and our expert advisory committees to take an holistic approach to food safety that also addresses chemical risks. All of this work supports our aim to deliver food we can trust.”
FSA publishes new research examining cooking habits and acrylamide
The FSA has also published new research which examines how cooking habits in the home can influence the levels of acrylamide that form in food.
The levels of acrylamide that people consume are usually estimated using dietary survey data and laboratory-cooked samples. The FSA says that these often fail to fully take account of consumer behaviour and the new research has been designed to address this gap in knowledge.
The report indicates that many consumers don’t follow manufacturer’s instructions and this could lead to higher levels of acrylamide. The findings show that domestic ovens are not entirely reliable when it comes to setting temperature. Consumers were also found to have a low awareness of the risks of acrylamide.
The FSA has said that it will use the research to inform its acrylamide advice and action, particularly with regard to home cooked foods. It will also inform the UK’s position in wider discussions at an EU level on how best to reduce consumer exposure to acrylamide from all sources.
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