Acrylamide is a chemical substance formed when starchy foods, such as potatoes and bread are cooked at high temperatures. It forms as a carcinogenic bi-product of cooking at temperatures that exceed 140°C, as a result of a reaction of amino acids and sugars - also known as the Maillard reaction.

The most common haven for acrylamide is found in fryers. For example, chips quickly crisp up and change their colour to brown at 190°C, this is as a result of a Maillard reaction.

From April 2018, UK businesses will have a duty to manage acrylamide levels as part of EU legislation. This will mean reviewing food safety management in an effort to reduce the presence of acrylamide in food.

Research shows that acrylamide is a potential carcinogen, whilst evidence is inconclusive precautionary measures are advised.

How to combat

  1. Deal with the crumbs left in your cooking oil, that’s essentially acrylamide and needs to be dealt with.
  2. Fry at a maximum 175°C to minimise the formation of acrylamide.
  3. Use oil testers to get an accurate temperature reading and test for indication that the oil needs changing.
  4. Use oil filters to help keep costs down by improving the quality of your oil for longer.

The EU is also yet to publish final guidance on this issue, but as of April, all food service operators will be expected to:

  • Acknowledge acrylamide as a food safety hazard
  • Take necessary steps to reduce the formation of acrylamide
  • Periodically sample and analyse food to monitor acrylamide levels
  • Keep appropriate records of mitigation processes, sampling data and test results

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