The EU Commission have this week published a new regulation establishing measures to reduce acrylamide in food. These regulations enter into force on December 11th 2017, and from April 11th 2018, businesses will need to be able demonstrate that they have identified potential sources of acrylamide in their business, and have put in place measures to ensure levels are kept as low as possible.
Acrylamide is a natural by-product of the cooking process and has always been present in our food. It is a chemical substance formed by a reaction between amino acids and sugars. It typically occurs when foods with high starch content such as potatoes and bread, are cooked at high temperatures (over 120°C) in a process of frying, toasting, roasting or baking.
In 2015, the European Food Safety Authority published its first full risk assessment of acrylamide in food. This reconfirmed previous evaluations that acrylamide in food potentially increases the risk of developing cancer for consumers in all age groups.
It is important to appreciate that it is not possible to completely eliminate acrylamide from foods, but actions can be taken to try and ensure that acrylamide levels are as low as reasonably achievable (ALARA) and that is what is required by law, because acrylamide is considered to be a chemical hazard and legislation has been made to require businesses to mitigate levels in food.
In practice, this means that businesses will be required to identify where the hazard of acrylamide formation occurs and then to implement mitigation (or reduction) measures to get levels of acrylamide as low as is reasonably achievable. This should be included in their Food Safety Management Systems.
In collaboration with Food Standards Agency and other industry stakeholders, the BHA are developing an industry guide to mitigating acrylamide, containing guidance and advice on how to reduce acrylamide in the food your serve. The guide will be assured by Cornwall Council, meaning that those members signed up for the BHA’s Primary Authority Scheme will be able to benefit from this assured advice.
This guide is nearing completion and we expect to publish this early next year, in preparation for the April implementation date. FSA are also developing guidance for enforcement officers on these regulations, and the BHA are working closely with FSA to ensure guidance is reasonable and in line with that issued to industry.”