BEUC Conducts EU-wide Test to Raise Acrylamide Awareness
BEUC – an organization that defends the interests of European consumers – is urging the European Commission to lower the current indicative benchmarks for acrylamide, a potential carcinogen, and make them binding on food producers.
A new EU-wide test that was carried out by ten of BEUC organizations has recently highlighted that consumers, especially the youngest, must be better protected against this contaminant in their food. Popular food items such as chips, biscuits are breakfast cereals are especially problematic. A third of products tested in the study were found at or above the benchmark including 7.7% of potato chips, 6.3% of biscuits for infants and young children and 13% of baby food products.
BEUC has also asked the EU Commission to set benchmarks for vegetable chips. Usually assumed to be healthier than their potato versions, chips made of carrots, beetroots and parsnips were found to contain twice as much acrylamide as potato chips.
“This EU-wide test proves that it is possible to produce, crisps, chips or cereals with low acrylamide content. But as long as the measures are voluntary some manufacturers will not take the issue seriously and consumers might still be exposed to high acrylamide levels. To oblige food makers to pay more attention to this contaminant, the EU Commission must set binding limits, as we have repeatedly called for,” said Monique Goyens, Director General of BEUC. “Many parents give their young children biscuits and wafers are primarily intended for older children and adults. The Commissions should then propose to bring down the acrylamide benchmark for regular biscuits, so it gets closer to the one for baby biscuits. That would more efficiently protect our little ones, who are most vulnerable to acrylamide effects due to their lower bodyweight,” Goyens went on.
Acrylamide is a chemical that naturally form when starchy foods such as potatoes or cereals are baked, fried or roasted at above 1200C. Numerous animal studies over the year have linked acrylamide in diet to cancer. Therefore, scientists have concluded the substance might potentially increase cancer risk in consumers of all ages.
The EU has instated acrylamide regulations since April 2018. They require food manufacturers, fast-food chains and restaurants to apply measures to ensure acrylamide levels in their products remain below benchmarks set in the law. BEUC is now recommending a strengthening of the regulations, with a focus on conducting campaigns to raise awareness about acrylamide.
In related news, Kerry in partnership with Renaissance BioScience have recently started rolling out a non-GMO acrylamide reducing yeast for global distribution. The yeast is marketed as being able to reduce acrylamide levels up to 90% across a range of food and beverage products. You can read all about it in our previous article.