RSSL reports that a team from the Institute of Food Science and Nutrition at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich, Switzerland are pushing for more research to understand the optimal combination of process conditions, ingredients and additives to produce good quality gingerbread which has a low acrylamide content.
The call followed their study findings that revealed the baking agent, ammonium hydrogen carbonate, markedly enhanced acrylamide formation, but its nitrogen atom was not incorporated into acrylamide, nor did acrylic acid form in the gingerbread.
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, a proven carcinogen.
Thomas Amrein at the Institute led a group who set out to test the theory that ammonia from the baking agent was incorporated into acrylamide via a reaction with acrylic acid. They prepared more than 180 gingerbread samples made to various different recipes and cooked under different conditions to evaluate the effect, on acrylamide formation, of additives and ingredients used in the manufacturing and baking process.
The results also revealed that acrylamide concentrations and browning intensity both increased with baking time. However, the use of sodium hydrogen carbonate as the baking agent reduced the acrylamide content of gingerbread by more than 60 per cent, and free asparagine was a limiting factor for acrylamide formation.
According to the RSSL report, replacing reducing sugars with sucrose, adding citric acid and adding glycine to the dough all reduced acrylamide formation.
Full findings of this study are published in the Journal Agriculture Food Chemistry, 2004; 52(13) pp 4282 - 4288).
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 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.