Acrylamide reductions in bread of up to 90 per cent have been claimed in initial test results announced this week for a proprietary yeast product from Phyterra Yeast, a division of Canadian firm, Functional Technologies Corporation.
And the yeast producer said that additional tests demonstrated that dough inoculated with its Acryleast showed that a 99 per cent reduction in asparagine - the main precursor to acrylamide – after three hours, compared to an 18.5 per cent reduction in control dough using standard commercial bread yeast.
“Functional’s breakthrough science speeds up this process by rapidly breaking down asparagine into safe compounds prior to acrylamide formation,” stated the company, who conducted the testing at under controlled conditions at the company’s laboratory in Prince Edward Island, Canada.
Moreover, said Functional Technologies, this testing phase indicated that incorporation of its yeast into the dough did not have detrimental impact on the taste, texture and flavour of the end product.
The yeast developer said it is in discussion with companies involved in yeast, bakery and general food production to accelerate its proprietary yeast strain commercialisation. But the company cautioned that additional research, product development, trials under industry-relevant conditions, and regulatory approvals are required prior to commericialisation.
Food manufacturers have been working with regulatory authorities and competitors to develop new methods to reduce the formation of acrylamide in products since it was first discovered in 2002 such as s changing the pH to alter the reaction products, cutting heating temperatures and times, using an enzyme to convert asparargine into an impotent form and binding asparagines to make it inaccessible.
But, according to Functional Technologies, these various approaches are either too costly or not effective.
Variance in acrylamide levels
Indeed, a recent European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) survey of acrylamide in food products indicates that voluntary efforts to reduce levels of the carcinogen are working but only in a limited number of food groups.
The new report on acrylamide collated data from 2000 food samples across the European Union and Norway in 2008 and builds on previous surveys with the goal of tracking progress on efforts to reduce exposure.
EFSA said that in contrast to 2007 results that showed no clear trend towards lower acrylamide levels, the 2008 data reveals “a more apparent” downward trend.
This is particularly pronounced in certain product categories. EFSA said significantly lower acrylamide levels were reported for French fries, fried potato products for home cooking, soft bread, bread not specified, infant biscuit, biscuit not specified, muesli and porridge and other products not specified.
However, success in these areas was not reproduced across all the food categories where acrylamide has been identified as a potential concern. EFSA said potato crisps, instant coffee, and substitute coffee products, such as those based on barley or chicory, all showed significantly higher levels of acrylamide in 2008 compared to 2007.
EFSA suggested the approach that the food industry has so far adopted to acrylamide reduction could help explain why success has been attained for certain foods and not others.
Voluntary measures, such as the so-called CIAA toolbox approach, which was first launched in 2006, have been employed to provide guidance to food manufacturers on reducing acrylamide levels in certain products.
This may well have delivered success where it was employed but EFSA said no mitigation measures have been proposed for substitute coffee or instant coffee. Both categories have particularly high levels of acrylamide and the 2008 data indicates that these are going up rather than down.
EFSA said: “It may be appropriate to assume that the application of the acrylamide toolbox was effective only in a limited number of food groups.”