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Guide to Acrylamide Legislation
Below is an extract from the guide produced by UKHospitality
Acrylamide is a chemical substance formed by a reaction between amino acids and sugars. It typically occurs when foods with high starch content such as potatoes and bread, are cooked at high temperatures (over 120°C) in a process of frying, toasting, roasting or baking. During high temperature cooking, a process called the Maillard reaction occurs. The naturally present water, sugar and amino acids combine to create a food's characteristic flavour, texture, colour and smell.
This process can also produce acrylamide. Whilst many foods can develop acrylamide, the scope of the Regulation concerns a specific group of commonly used foods, so this guide focuses on what is ‘in scope’. Other foods not in scope may also produce acrylamide, so there are general measures in the guide that can be taken in these circumstances.
In 2015, the European Food Safety Authority published its first full risk assessment of acrylamide in food. This reconfirmed previous evaluations that acrylamide in food potentially increases the risk of developing cancer for consumers in all age groups. Acrylamide is a natural by-product of the cooking process and has always been present in our food. It is important to appreciate that it is not possible to completely eliminate acrylamide from foods, but actions can be taken to ensure that acrylamide levels are as low as reasonably achievable. This is what is required by law because acrylamide is considered to be a chemical contaminant1 and legislation requires businesses to mitigate levels in food2.
WHAT DO YOU NEED TO DO
FOR ALL BUSINESSES
Demonstrate that you have planned and put into place measures to mitigate acrylamide in food by taking some or all of the following actions:
- Ensure guidance is readily accessible, understood and is followed.
- Put in place controls to manage acrylamide levels at any catering steps in the business where it is needed.
- Write it down in your existing FSMS or other documentation or be prepared to demonstrate your procedures to an enforcement officer.
- Assess where the hazards of acrylamide may arise.
- Make sure staff understand about acrylamide formation and their roles to manage levels to as low as reasonably achievable by following your procedures.
- Carry out simple checks to show that measures have been put in place – for example checking that food is cooked in accordance with manufacturer’s instructions, in-house recipes and/or SOPs, is not over-cooked or is checked against a colour chart.