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Ingredients > Food labelling

Novozymes tackles acrylamide levels in coffee

By Jane Byrne , 06-Oct-2011
Last updated on 02-Nov-2011 at 10:39 GMT2011-11-02T10:39:56Z

Acrylamide levels in coffee could be on the wane following the development of a new application for the asparagine enzyme Acrylaway from Novozymes.

The Danish enzyme specialist claims to be the first company to achieve acrylamide mitigation in coffee, traditionally a product that has proved challenging in terms of reductions in the levels of the chemical.

It said its Acrylaway CB L, from Aspergillus oryzae, can reduce acrylamide levels in Arabica and Robusta coffees by up to 70%.

Anders Espe, business development and marketing director for the food enzymes division of Novozymes, told FoodNavigator.com that the supplier has been colloborating with a commerical coffee manufacturer over a period of 18 months to scale up the technology on an industrial level and prove the 70% reduction claim.

"The next step is to work with the wider coffee industry on the technology," he added.

Novozymes launched Acrylaway to the industry in 2007, with notable reductions achieved, so far, in biscuits and snack categories.

Acrylamide is a suspected carcinogen that is formed during by heat-induced reaction between sugar and an amino acid called asparagine. Known as the Maillard reaction, this process is responsible for the brown colour and tasty flavour of baked, fried and toasted foods.

The Danish group said that by adding Acrylaway before roasting the beans, asparagine is converted into another common amino acid, aspartic acid, which does not take part in the formation of acrylamide. And, thus, the acrylamide level in the final coffee product is significantly reduced.

Earlier this week, the European trade body, FoodDrinkEurope, in releasing its updated acrylamide toolbox, noted the difficulty in reducing acrylamide in coffee.

Beate Kettlitz, director food policy, science and R&D at the Brussels based agency told this publication that the in terms of lessening the formation of the chemical in certain categories, the “most impressive results may be seen in the baby biscuit and biscuits sectors, which is now a new section in the toolbox. In other areas, such as coffee, we can really not show effects despite all our efforts.”

And, in April this year, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) said that, on comparing data from 2009 with 2007, levels of acrylamide actually increased in crisp bread and instant coffee.

It reported that the highest average levels of acrylamide were detected in potato crisps and substitute coffee, which includes coffee-like drinks derived from chicory or cereals such as barley.

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