Since a Swedish study send a shudder of fear throughout the food industry earlier this year, scientists have been fervently investigating the presence of the potential carcinogen, acrylamide in starchy, fried foods.
In June 2002 the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation gathered together food scientists from around the world to discuss current research into acrylamide and to formulate a plan of action to tackle new research.
One clear result of the meeting was a consultation recommendation that invited all interested parties to share relevant data as well as ongoing investigations through 'acrylamide Infonet' - an international network on acrylamide.
The focal point for the network is the website where scientists can find a database of researchers/data providers and references for research published elsewhere. This week the network called for the scientific community working at university, industry, government or independent research institutes to register their research project on the network.
Registered projects need to be relevant to the safety evaluation of acrylamide in food. According to the network co-ordinators - Joint Institute for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (JIFSAN), WHO Collaborating Centre for Risk Analysis and Food Contamination Monitoring anda member of the FAO Network of Centres of Excellence for Food Quality, Safety and Nutrition - the registration process and the database are designed to achieve a maximum of transparency and confidentiality.
In May 2002, the Swedish National Food Authority published the first-ever report that acrylamide, a known carcinogen in animals, is present in high levels in some starch-based foods cooked at high temperatures. Since then, the United Kingdom and Norwegian national food agencies have also published similar findings.