The FDA is asking for comments on its guidance for industry in reducing acrylamide in food. This harmful compound is formed when sugars and an amino acid (protein) called asparagine combine in high temperature dry heat cooking, such as grilling, roasting, baking, and frying. Plant based products such as grains and potatoes form most acrylamide under these conditions. There are human health risks associated with consumption of acrylamide. The guidance is going to suggest a range of possible approaches to reducing acrylamide levels.
Acrylamide caused cancer in animals when they were exposed to the compound at very high doses. In 2010, the Joint Food and Agriculture Organization/World Health Organization Expert Committee on Food Additives concluded that acrylamide is a human health concern.
The FDA has conducted toxicology research, food surveys, exposure assessments, formation and mitigation research, and guidance for industry on acrylamide since it was first observed in food in 2002. The FDA’s best advice is that consumers adopt a healthy eating plan, emphasizing fruit, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, beans, eggs, and nuts that are cooked using various methods and not just dry, high heat cooking.
If you want to reduce your exposure to acrylamide, avoid plant-based foods cooked with high heat. Foods that are eaten raw or cooked by steaming, slow cooking, or broiling do not form acrylamide compounds.
Certain potato products such as French fries, coffee, and foods made of grains such as toast and breakfast cereals tend to have high acrylamide levels because of the way they are made. If these foods are cooked to a lighter shade of brown, fewer acrylamide compounds will be made.
When making potatoes, for instance, roasting potato pieces causes less acrylamide formation. Baking whole potatoes also produces less of this compound. Frying causes the highest acrylamide formation because of the intense heat. Soaking raw potato slices in water for 30 minutes before frying does help reduce acrylamide formation, research has found.
The guidance will not specify any maximum recommended level or action level for acrylamide. The FDA will update this guidance as needed to reflect new research and developments, and we will keep you informed.