From 2018, food businesses in Europe will have to take steps to cut down on acrylamide- a carcinogenic chemical produced by food in high temperatures.

The European Commission voted to introduce measures to tackle acrylamide in July this year, pending confirmation from the European Parliament and the European Council. It has now announced that both of these bodies have signed off and new legislation has been published to come into effect in April 2018.

Acrylamide was first discovered in foods as recently as 2002. It forms naturally during high-temperature cooking and processing. This includes frying, roasting and baking, particularly in potato-based products and cereal-based products, according to the Food Standards Agency (FSA).

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) confirmed in 2015 that acrylamide is a carcinogenic substance and that current levels of dietary exposure to it indicate a concern to carcinogenic effects.

Although it is not possible to totally eliminate acrylamide from foods, actions can be taken to try and ensure that levels are as low as reasonably achievable. Food businesses will be required to put in place practical steps to manage acrylamide within their food safety management system under the new EU legislation. The legislation describes practical measures based upon best practice guidance developed by the food industry to mitigate acrylamide formation in a range of foods.

Food Standards Scotland and FSA are working with the British Hospitality Association and other key stakeholders to develop simple guidance which will help the catering and food service sectors comply with new rules.

In addition, the FSA has been undertaking surveillance on acrylamide levels in food products since 2007. The latest surveillance report can be found on the Survey of acrylamide and furan in UK retail products page.

FSA’s advice and more information about the chemical can be found by clicking here.