Consumers ‘largely unaware’ of acrylamide: report

By Noli Dinkovski contact

- Last updated on GMT

Acrylamide is a suspected carcinogen that forms in foods with reducing sugar
Acrylamide is a suspected carcinogen that forms in foods with reducing sugar
Just 12% of consumers in the UK, the US and France are aware of acrylamide – but many who are expect manufacturers to take responsibility for reducing levels in food, a survey by ingredients firm DSM has found.

Consumers in the three key western markets were still largely unaware of acrylamide, despite increasing media reports warning of its potential harm, according to DSM’s Global Insights Series​ report. In Germany, however, awareness was 54%.

Of the consumers who understood what acrylamide was, 70% were concerned by its potential effects, the DSM survey of 2,000 people showed.

Almost two-thirds (64%) of those had decided to take action to reduce their acrylamide consumption, such as by adjusting their cooking behaviour.

Around half (47%) believed the responsibility for acrylamide levels in the products they bought rested with food manufacturers, while 28% believed regulators should take responsibility.

A suspected carcinogen

Acrylamide is a suspected carcinogen that forms in foods with reducing sugar that are processed at a high temperature, such as cookies or tortilla chips.

In 2014, a European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) report confirmed previous evaluations that acrylamide in food potentially increased the risk of developing cancer for consumers across all age groups.

In April, the EU introduced benchmark levels for acrylamide in food products based on the ALARA principle (as low as reasonably achievable). The door has been left open to increase these limits further in the future.

Many food manufacturers had already taken significant steps to reduce acrylamide levels in their products, but recent regulatory changes and increasing public awareness about acrylamide was prompting further action, DSM claimed.

Leadership role in acrylamide reduction

The results of the survey showed there was still room for the food industry to claim a leadership role in acrylamide reduction, it added.

While acrylamide is still relatively ‘under the radar’ for many consumers, the topic is quickly gaining attention through major media outlets in the US and Europe,​” said Fokke van den Berg, business director for baking at DSM.

“Our research shows that once consumers are informed about acrylamide, they want manufacturers – more than regulators – to take action to reduce acrylamide levels.”

DSM said its PreventASe and PreventASe XR were asparaginases (enzymes) that prevented the formation of acrylamide in a wide range of baked goods and snacks without impacting taste, texture or shelf-life.

Using the PreventASe range, food producers could reduce acrylamide levels by up to 95%, depending on the type of application, it added.

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