The chemical acrylamide was reported in food in April 2002 by Swedish scientists. Acrylamide is a natural byproduct in certain carbohydrate-rich foods that forms when these foods are fried, baked, or roasted at high temperatures. Although initial reports of acrylamide's presence in some foods raised concerns because of possible links with increased risk of cancer in some laboratory animals, it was largely unknown how pervasive it was in the food supply, and its true public health significance for humans.
Now, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has released new data on acrylamide levels in more than 750 new food samples. These data expand the agency's ability to assess the extent to which this chemical is present in the food supply and its public health impact. In addition, the FDA has made available the final version of its action plan to evaluate the risk associated with acrylamide and examine ways to potentially reduce levels of acrylamide in food.
Since 2002, FDA has released an Action Plan to guide activities on acrylamide; performed research in the areas of methodology, toxicology, and acrylamide formation; and periodically released new data on acrylamide levels in food.
These new data results almost triple FDA's database of acrylamide levels in food. The new data are consistent with previous findings showing higher levels of acrylamide in potato-based and other carbohydrate-rich products processed at high temperatures and lower levels of acrylamide in dairy foods and infant formulas. The novel finding in the most recent sampling is the presence of acrylamide in black olives, prune juice and Postum, a powdered beverage.
Rhona Applebaum, executive vice president and chief science officer for the National Food Processors Association (NFPA), says, ""FDAâ€™s research on acrylamide levels in various foods is neither a warning to consumers nor a finding of risk associated with any particular foods or individual brands." She adds, "The purpose of FDAâ€™s survey of acrylamide in foods is to gather information that will be helpful to scientists in understanding the types of foods where acrylamide is found, the variability of acrylamide levels in foods and how acrylamide is formed in foods during cooking."
FDA's final action plan for acrylamide in food and new sampling data can be found at FDA's Acrylamide Action Plan Page.