New Acrylamide Legislation

Published: 10 Apr 2018

There is a new legislation which comes into effect as of the 11th April 2018. This legislation states that food businesses will be required to identify where the hazard of acrylamide is formed in the business and then to implement measures to ensure levels are as low as is reasonably achievable.

What is acrylamide?
Acrylamide is a chemical substance formed by a reaction between amino acids and sugars. It normally occurs when foods with high starch content such as potatoes and bread, are cooked at high temperatures in processes such as: frying, toasting, roasting or baking.

During high temperature cooking, a reaction occurs and the naturally present water, sugar and amino acids combine to create a food's characteristic flavour, texture, colour and smell. This process can also produce acrylamide.

Research has shown that the acrylamide chemical in food can potentially increase the risk of cancer in all consumers.

What products is Acrylamide found in?

  • Chips (deep fried) products and sliced potato crisps from fresh potatoes
  • potato crisps, snacks, crackers and other potato products from potato dough
  • bread
  • breakfast cereals (not porridge)
  • Bakery products: cookies, biscuits, rusks, cereal bars, scones, cornets, wafers, crumpets and gingerbread, as well as crackers, crisp breads and bread substitutes
  • Coffee, roast coffee; instant coffee, coffee substitutes.
  • baby food and processed cereal-based food intended for infants and young children

How will it affect your business?

Acrylamide is a natural by-product of the cooking process and is present in our food. It is not possible to completely eliminate acrylamide from foods, but actions need be taken to ensure that acrylamide levels are as low as reasonably achievable. This is what is required by law because acrylamide is considered to be a chemical contaminant and legislation requires businesses to mitigate levels in food.

The main point in the legislation is that businesses must be able to show that they are putting in measures at site to ensure levels of acrylamide are kept to a minimum. Dependant on the business, size and what the business produces will depend on the different measures they will have put in place to reduce acrylamide.

It is important for businesses to:

  • Ensure easy access to, understanding and following the content of this guide or the relevant areas of your FSMS. This should be implemented within your HACCP plan at site.
  • Assess where the hazards of acrylamide may arise
  • Put in place controls to manage acrylamide levels at any catering steps in the business where it is needed
  • Write it down in your FSMS
  • Make sure staff understand about acrylamide formation and their roles to manage levels to as low as reasonably achievable by following your procedures
  • Carry out simple checks to show that measures have been put in place.

How you as caterers can reduce levels of Acrylamide in food products at site:

  • Follow manufacturers guidelines and instructions in regards to time and temperatures.
  • Oven temperature should not exceed 220°C or 200°C for fan oven.
  • Frying temperature should be below 175°
  • Follow recipes for types of products cooked.
  • Select cooking oil that works at lower temperatures and fry’s food quicker.
  • Cooking oil suppliers should be consulted for the best suited oil, e.g. soybean oil or corn oil result in a lower level of acrylamide formation compared to sunflower oil.
  • Bruised potatoes or potatoes that are stored in fridges are more likely to produce higher level of acrylamide when cooked. Think about storage and condition of potatoes when cooking/frying.
  • Ensure fryers are regularly cleaned and skimmed frequently to remove objects etc.
  • Don’t serve over cooked products
  • Cook to a golden yellow- ‘GO FOR GOLD!’

Tips for chips to reduce level:

  • Max temperature 175°C, when applying ‘two step frying’- do the first step at 160°C or below.
  • Do not season before cooking - always after.
  • Do not overfill basket, fill to the halfway mark.
  • When cooking small quantities i.e. less than half then reduce frying time.
  • Always cook until a golden yellow colour - GO 4 GOLD
  • Discard any overcooked chips or dark coloured chips.
  • Change oil regularly and keep in clean condition.

There is additional guidance which will soon be realised for caterers throughout the UK however please see the link to the FSA website to find out anymore regarding acrylamide.

For support please contact CSC