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What is acrylamide?

Acrylamide is a chemical that can form in some foods during high-temperature cooking processes, such as frying, roasting, and baking. Acrylamide in food forms from sugars and an amino acid that are naturally present in food; it does not come from food packaging or the environment.

Is there a risk from eating foods that contain acrylamide?

Acrylamide caused cancer in animals in studies where animals were exposed to acrylamide at very high doses. In 2010, the Joint Food and Agriculture Organization/World Health Organization Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) concluded that acrylamide is a human health concern, and suggested additional long-term studies. FDA experts participated in the evaluation and provided data from new research studies on acrylamide risk.

Is acrylamide something new in food? When was acrylamide first detected in food?

Acrylamide has probably always been present in cooked foods. However, acrylamide was first detected in certain foods in April 2002.

How does acrylamide form in food?

Acrylamide forms from sugars and an amino acid (asparagine) during certain types of high-temperature cooking, such as frying, roasting, and baking.

What kinds of cooking lead to acrylamide formation? In what foods?

High temperature cooking, such as frying, roasting, or baking, is most likely to cause acrylamide formation. Boiling and steaming do not typically form acrylamide. Acrylamide is found mainly in foods made from plants, such as potato products, grain products, or coffee. Acrylamide does not form, or forms at lower levels, in dairy, meat, and fish products. Generally, acrylamide is more likely to accumulate when cooking is done for longer periods or at higher temperatures. (See Acrylamide: Information on Diet, Food Storage, and Food Preparation.)

What FDA data are available on acrylamide levels in U.S. foods?

FDA has posted its current data on acrylamide in foods on the FDA web site at Survey Data on Acrylamide in Food. The most recent data were added to the website in 2019.

Are acrylamide levels in organic foods different from levels in other foods?

Since acrylamide is formed through cooking, acrylamide levels in cooked organic foods should be similar to levels in cooked non-organic foods.

What is FDA doing about acrylamide in food?

The FDA has initiated a number of activities on acrylamide since the discovery of acrylamide in food in 2002, including toxicology research, analytical methodology development, food surveys, exposure assessments, formation and mitigation research, and guidance for industry. Information on FDA’s activities on acrylamide in food can be found at the agency’s acrylamide page.

Should I stop eating foods that are fried, roasted, or baked?

No. FDA's best advice for acrylamide and eating is that consumers adopt a healthy eating plan, consistent with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (2015-2020), that emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products; includes lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs, and nuts; and limits saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, salt (sodium) and added sugars.

What is being done to reduce acrylamide levels in food?

International food regulators are working with industry to reduce acrylamide levels. New farming and processing techniques are being investigated to produce lower levels of acrylamide, for example, lowering cooking temperatures, using enzymes that reduce acrylamide formation and obtaining raw materials with lower reducing sugar levels. However, reducing acrylamide in some foods, such as coffee, is difficult without changing its taste.

How can I eat less acrylamide?

  • Don’t store potatoes in the refrigerator or where exposed to light because this can increase the components that promote acrylamide formation.

  • Soak potatoes in water for 15-30 minutes, or blanch in boiling water before frying or roasting because this reduces the components that promote acrylamide formation.

  • Follow manufacturer’s cooking instructions – many of them have adjusted their instructions to reduce acrylamide levels in their foods.

  • Cook potato products such as oven fries, hash browns and roast potatoes in a moderate oven (180-190°C) to a light golden colour only. Deep fried chips should be cooked at a maximum of 175°C. Chunkier style chips are preferable.

  • Toast bread or other foods to the lightest colour acceptable to your taste, noting that the crust will have higher levels of acrylamide.

There are a number of ways you can eat less acrylamide such as following a balanced diet and varying how your food is cooked, for example boiling, steaming or microwaving.

Is acrylamide found anywhere else?

Acrylamide is produced industrially for use in products such as plastics, grouts, water treatment products, and cosmetics. Acrylamide is also found in cigarette smoke.


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