New EU acrylamide legislation comes into force
New European Union legislation comes into force today (April 11) concerning the amount of acrylamide in foods with “benchmark” levels being set for various products. Passed by the EU last year, today marks the beginning of the law which limits the amount of acrylamide allowed in packaged foods and forces manufacturers to closely examine and reduce acrylamide levels in products.
Acrylamide forms naturally during high-temperature cooking and processing, such as frying, roasting and baking, particularly in potato-based and cereal-based products. It is not possible to eliminate acrylamide from foods, but actions can be taken to try and ensure that acrylamide levels are as low as reasonably achievable. Today's legislation describes practical measures based upon best practice guidance developed by the food industry to mitigate acrylamide formation in a range of foods.
The aim is to achieve levels that are as low as reasonably achievable, below benchmark levels that range from 40μg/kg in baby foods to 4,000μg/kg in chicory used as a coffee substitute. These benchmark levels are due to be reviewed by the European Commission every three years, with the aim to gradually set lower levels. Currently, most breakfast cereals have a benchmark level set at 300μg/kg, except for maize, oat, spelt, barley and rice-based products, for which the benchmark level is 50 percent lower. The levels are 350μg of acrylamide per kilogram for biscuits and cookies to 750μg per kilogram for potato crisps and 850μg per kilogram for instant soluble coffee.
Today’s implementation will require food business operators to take into account the acrylamide benchmark levels defined by the regulation, and implementing mitigation measures to the purpose of reducing the presence of acrylamide in their food products. This includes potato-based products, bread and bakery wares, cereals, coffee and coffee substitutes, as well as baby food.