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Acrylamide 'no risk' to reproduction

21-May-2004

A new study conducted by the FDA says that acrylamide found in fried and baked goods is unlikely to cause reproduction problems if the general public consume it as part of the average daily diet - but research is ongoing for its carcinogenic properties.

According to a draft agenda from the Center for the Evaluation of Risks to Human Production in the US, the risk is so low it is not deemed to be a problem.

"Considering the low level of estimated human exposure derived from a variety of sources, the Expert Panel expressed negligible concern for adverse reproductive and development effects for exposure in the general population," states a report published by the panel investigating the matter.

 

The panel is expected to give its full evaluation on the subject in four to six weeks, but it seems that there is already a clear conclusion to the study results.

 

Acrylamide is derived from a number of chemical processes, and, in addition to certain foods, is also widely used in a variety of other applications, including cosmetics, garments and some construction materials.

 

Many experts now believe that physical exposure to the chemical, rather than consuming it in small doses in foods, could pose more of a risk. The experts say that those involved in the construction industry, where the chemical is used in grouting, could be at risk if they come into physical contact or breathe the substance.

 

Acrylamide first came to the fore as a concern for the food industry after a 2002 study conducted by Swedish food regulators revealed that the chemical was present in potato chips, French fries and a number of baked goods. The findings led to a raft of research on the subject which confirmed that many foods cooked at temperatures above 120C risked the formation of the chemical.

 

Subsequent to that much research has been conducted into the effects of the potentially carcinogenic substance. Although it now looks likely that the chemical does not effect reproduction, further investigations are still in full swing to bring about more awareness of other potential risks.

 

At the end of last year EU funding bought a major cash boost to European research on the subject. Led by the research team at Stockholm university that first discovered acylamide in food, and headed up by food chemist Kerstin Skog, the project will group together 23 collaborative partners, including the department of food engineering at Lund university and the National Food Administration in Sweden as well as research bodies dotted all over Europe.

 

The EU has committed €4.2 million over three years, and the project partners have said that they will match this sum.

 

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