EU member states have voted in favour of the European Commission’s proposal to reduce the presence of acrylamide in food.
Once implemented, the new regulation will require food business operators to lower the amount of the chemical compound in their products, proportionate to the size and nature of the establishment.
Acrylamide is a carcinogenic substance that forms from amino acids and sugars during high temperature processing, such as frying, roasting and baking, particularly in potato-based products, cereal-based products and coffee.
The presence of acrylamide in food was initially detected in 2002 and since then research has been undertaken to identify measures to reduce its presence.
The European Food Safety Authority confirmed in 2015 that acrylamide is a carcinogenic substance and that current levels of dietary exposure indicate a concern with respect to its effects.
Under the agreed approach, businesses involved in the production of typically acrylamide-rich foods such as fried potato products, bread and coffee would be required to apply acrylamide mitigating measures across their production chain from the spring of 2018.
Commissioner for health and food safety, Vytenis Andriukaitis, welcomed the vote which took place last week: “Today we took an important step in protecting the health and wellbeing of citizens. 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.”
The Changing Markets Foundation welcomed the decision but emphasised that more should be done in the future and urged the EU to start working on maximum limits.
Nusa Urbancic from the Changing Markets Foundation said: “Today’s vote is a positive first step towards reducing acrylamide levels in our food, as it marks the end of the voluntary approach, which has failed to deliver reductions over the last decade.
“However, the approach still falls short from protecting the most vulnerable consumers, as it presents a number of shortcomings.”
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