EU agrees to set legal limits on acrylamide in food

By Helen Gilbert

- Last updated on GMT

The European Commission's proposal to set a legal limit for acrylamide in food has been agreed
The European Commission's proposal to set a legal limit for acrylamide in food has been agreed

Related tags: European union

Food manufacturers will be required to reduce the presence of acrylamide in food after EU Member States voted in favour of the European Commission’s (EC’s) proposal to set legal limits.

The wording of the new regulation, which will be examined by the European Council and Parliament over the next three months before final adoption by the EC, is expected to come into force by Spring 2018.

In a statement, the EC confirmed it planned to initiate discussions on additional measures, such as setting maximum levels of acrylamide in certain foods “without delay”​ once the regulation was adopted.

Maximum levels of acrylamide

Acrylamide – a  carcinogenic substance that forms from a naturally present amino acid and sugars during high temperature processes, such as frying, roasting and baking – is particularly found in potato and cereal-based products as well as coffee and coffee substitutes.

In 2015, The European Food Safety Authority concluded that acrylamide could increase the risk of developing cancer in all age groups.

“We took an important step in protecting the health and well-being of citizens,”​ said Vytenis Andriukaitis, commissioner for health and food safety.

‘Carcinogenic substance’

“The new regulation will not only help to reduce the presence of this carcinogenic substance but also will help raise awareness on how to avoid the exposure to it that oftentimes comes from home-cooking.''

Earlier this year, premium crisp manufacturer Tyrrells played down warnings over the chemical, after an investigation revealed its lightly salted sweet potato crisps contained almost 2.5 times the recommended EU limit​.

Almost one-in-five potato crisp varieties – including those from Morrisons and Aldi – had high levels of acrylamide, the investigation by sustainability pressure group Changing Markets found.

In March, the campaigners also revealed that 10% of biscuits for infants and young children on sale in the UK contained high levels of the substance.

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