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Acrylamide: Regulation Establishing Benchmark Levels Published

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November 2017. On November 20th , the European Commission published Regulation (EU) 2017/2158 establishing mitigation measures and benchmark levels for the reduction of the presence of acrylamide in food. The Regulation includes the obligation for food business operators to apply appropriate mitigation measures for acrylamide reduction to certain foodstuffs. The aim of these measures is to achieve levels of acrylamide as low as reasonably achievable below certain Benchmark Levels. Furthermore, the Regulation lays down requirements for sampling as well as performance criteria for the analysis of acrylamide. The Regulation will apply from April 11th 2018.

Foodstuffs Referred to in the Draft Regulation Are:

  • French fries and comparable products
  • Potato crisps, snacks, crackers and comparable products from potato dough
  • Bread
  • Breakfast cereals (excluding porridge)
  • Fine bakery wares
  • Coffee
  • Coffee substitutes
  • Baby food and processed cereal based food intended for infants and young children

Occurence and Toxicology of Acrylamide

Acrylamide (2-propenamide) was first detected in 2002 by a Swedish working group in various starch-containing, thermally processed foods like French fries or potato crisps. Since then, it is commonly known that acrylamide can be developed during thermal procedures (baking, roasting, frying, deep-frying) from asparagine and reducing sugars like fructose and glucose. Acrylamide causes cancer within animal testing. In 2015, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) confirmed that acrylamide in food potentially increases the risk of developing cancer for consumers in all age groups.

Regulatory Provisions

So far, there are no maximum levels for acrylamide in food. With Commission Recommendation 2013/647/EU, the EU published modified Indicative Values for acrylamide in certain foodstuffs, which are based on monitoring results of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). Besides, the German Federal Office of Consumer Protection and Food Safety (BVL) published Signal Values for additional matrices. When exceeding Indicative or Signal Values, producers are obliged to implement measures to minimise the acrylamide levels within their products. Therefore they may use intervention steps summarised in the Acrylamide Tool Box (FoodDrinkEurope) or the Code of Practice for Acrylamide (Codex Alimentarius). The new Regulation will replace the system of Indicative and Signal Values. Most of the new Benchmark Levels are lower than the previous Indicative Values.

Analysis of Acrylamide

Eurofins WEJ Contaminants was one of the first labs establishing the analysis of acrylamide in all relevant food matrices using LC-MS/MS. Since then, the analysis of acrylamide has continuously been developed further. The portfolio also comprises the analysis of acrylamide with extremely low limit of quantification (LOQ 5 µg/kg). The performance criteria specified in the draft regulation for the analysis of acrylamide are fulfilled. For further information please read our current poster regarding the analysis of acrylamide, our product flyer "Acrylamide in Food", visit our webpage Analysis of Organic Contaminants or contact your account manager or our expert for the analysis of acrylamide, Nadja Fluechter.