RSSL is leading the way in helping the food industry reduce the amount of acrylamide in fried and baked products
This is important because acrylamide is seen as a potential cancer-causing compound, first identified in foods back in 2002.
More recently, in 2015, EFSA published its first full risk assessment of acrylamide in foods.
The most important food groups contributing to acrylamide exposure are fried potato products, coffee, biscuits, crackers, crisp bread and soft bread.
Although there are no limits set by legislation, it is generally agreed that industry needs to take measures to reduce acrylamide production.
Some of these steps are well documented and relate to storage of ingredients, process temperatures and use of additives/ingredients that can reduce levels of asparagine - a known precursor of acrylamide - in raw materials.
RSSL can help manufacturers reduce acrylamide by offering an analysis service that can determine where and when acrylamide is generated in the production process.
By doing this survey routinely (many clients opt for an annual assessment), RSSL can help manufacturers to understand which parts of the process could be adjusted to reduce acrylamide formation.
RSSL's service has UKAS accreditation for biscuits, but the same methods are equally applicable to all affected foods.
The sample preparation is often complex, and the LC-MS techniques used in detection/quantification are highly sophisticated and capable of detecting acrylamide at levels down to 50ng/g.
"We've seen a determined response from manufacturers to cut acrylamide levels," notes Marta Ahijado of RSSL. "A regular survey is a good way to identify where acrylamide is most likely to be produced, and hence a way of determining how best to keep levels at an absolute minimum."
"The aim is for acrylamide not to be present and using LC-MS we can reassure clients that if we can't detect it, then it is either not present at all, or only present at levels that should not be of concern to consumers."