UKH publishes guide to managing cancer-causing acrylamide in food

By Stuart Stone

- Last updated on GMT

'Go for gold': UKHospitality's report advises food business operators on how they can manage the levels of cancer-causing acrylamide in their dishes
'Go for gold': UKHospitality's report advises food business operators on how they can manage the levels of cancer-causing acrylamide in their dishes
UKHospitality (UKH) has published the Industry Guide to Acrylamide to help businesses in the food and catering industries comply with acrylamide regulations.

The guide, produced with the Food Standards Agency and Food Standards Scotland, features contribution from the British Beer and Pub Association, the British Frozen Food Federation, the Nationwide Caterers Association, the National Federation of Fish Friers, the Potato Processors Association and Seafish.

Its aim is to provide practical and informative guidance for catering and foodservice businesses on compliance with acrylamide legislation and on implementing simple steps to manage the risks of acrylamide in food.

In a foreword for the guide, food and safety manager from Cornwall Council Nick Kelly states: “The creation of acrylamide during the cooking process may be a new concept for many people.

“It is our hope that this Industry Guide will provide busy caterers with an easy to understand, proportionate and practical guide on how to mitigate the dangers of acrylamide in their food.”

What is acrylamide?

Acrylamide is formed by a reaction between amino acids and sugars, typically occurring when starchy food is cooked at high temperature (over 120 degrees centigrade) during frying, toasting, roasting or baking.

UKHospitality’s report highlights that the European Food Safety Authority’s first full risk assessment of acrylamide in food in 2015 reaffirmed suggestions that it increases the risk of developing cancer.

Given that acrylamide is a natural by-product of the cooking process it isn’t possible to completely remove it from foods, however, action can be taken to ensure levels are as low as reasonably achievable.

As acrylamide is a chemical contaminant, legislation requires businesses to mitigate levels in food.

What are the laws regarding acrylamide?

According to the report, food business operators are required to identify where the hazards of acrylamide formation occur and then implement measures to reduce levels to as low as reasonably achievable.

The extent to which food businesses are required to manage acrylamide in food depends upon the nature and size of a business operation.

Advice from the report

Guidance from the Industry Guide to Acrylamide ​includes:

  • 'Go for gold' – according to the report, the darker the colour of a starchy product the greater the acrylamide levels, therefore operators should cook food to a golden yellow colour where appropriate
  • Assess hazards where acrylamide may arise
  • Ensure staff understand acrylamide formation and their roles and procedures in managing levels
  • Carry out simple food checks, for example using industry-provided colour charts.

The full Industry Guide to Acrylamide ​can be read here​.

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