The report shows an upward trend in acrylamide levels in processed cereal-based baby foods (excluding rusks). However the Agency also found reductions in levels for many other products – including pre-cooked French fries, potato products for home cooking and bread.
However the Food Standards Agency (FSA) said that for most products: “We found no evidence of trends.”
Acrylamide and furan levels in a range of processed and packaged foods reported the FSA – which are the latest investigated levels of the process contaminants – are said to not increase concern about their risk.
“As with previous years’ data, the acrylamide and furan results from this UK survey have been sent to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) for collation with other Member States’ survey data, trend analysis within the EU and, in the case of furan, a risk assessment,” said the FSA.
An FSA spokesperson told FoodNavigator that levels of acrylamide and furan reported in the survey “do not increase concern about the risk to health … and the FSA has not changed its advice to consumers.”
“This survey is part of FSA’s rolling survey to measure acrylamide and furan in UK retails products, intended to establish clearer trends on occurrence,” they explained, noting that monitoring and reporting would also follow the 2011 – 2013 period.
The FSA added that it is working with stakeholders, including the food industry, to increase knowledge and understanding of how to reduce acrylamide in food.
“The food industry is also carrying out research to find ways of reducing the levels of acrylamide in food,” said the FSA spokesperson, noting that European industry body FoodDrinkEurope has produced a document known as the ‘toolkit’.
The Agency added that international efforts are ongoing to help gather more data regarding furan reduction, “which we hope will lead to the development of future mitigation strategies, if required.”
The FSA survey (found here) reports the levels of the potentially carcinogenic substances over the period November 2010 - April 2011. The results are the fourth set in a rolling programme to measure the levels of the contaminants in a range of retail foods.
A total of 248 food products were sampled – representing the ten food groups specified in European Commission Recommendation (EU) No. 2010/307 for the monitoring of acrylamide in food.
Of the 248 products analysed for acrylamide during the 2010-2011 survey, 13 products were found to contain acrylamide levels that exceeded the ‘indicative value’ (IV) for their food group.
The FSA said that given the relatively small number of products sampled, and extent of these observed trends: “It is not possible at this stage to draw any definitive conclusions and therefore further investigation by the Agency may be required to try and establish if changes in manufacturing practice are having the desired effect.”