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2010-2011 Acrylamide in Selected Foods


The Food Safety Action Plan (FSAP) aims to modernize and enhance Canada's food safety system. As part of the FSAP enhanced surveillance initiative, targeted surveys are used to test various foods for specific hazards.

Acrylamide is unintentionally formed in high carbohydrate foods that are cooked or processed at high temperatures (e.g., fried, baked, toasted, grilled, and roasted). Acrylamide is classified as 'possibly carcinogenic to humans' by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. Both Health Canada and the Joint Food and Agriculture Organization/World Health Organization (FAO/WHO) Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) have indicated that the current levels of acrylamide exposure from food may pose a human health risk.

The main objective of the acrylamide survey was to generate baseline surveillance data on acrylamide levels in high carbohydrate foods which may have been cooked or processed at high temperatures.

There are no regulations in Canada, the European Union, the United States, or Australia/New Zealand for acrylamide in foods. However, the Codex Alimentarius Commission has established an industry code of practice for the reduction of acrylamide levels in food as part of the efforts to limit intake of acrylamide to "As Low As Reasonably Achievable" (ALARA).

A total of 897 samples of high carbohydrate foods, which may have been cooked or processed at high temperatures, were analyzed for acrylamide. Most of the samples (623/897 or 69.5%) contained detectable levels of acrylamide. The acrylamide levels detected ranged from 6 to 2000 parts per billion (ppb). The lowest average acrylamide levels were observed in jams (10 ppb) while the highest average acrylamide levels were observed in molasses (901 ppb).

All the data generated were shared with Health Canada for use in performing human health risk assessments. The levels of acrylamide detected in foods in this survey were determined to be unlikely to pose a human health concern. All acrylamide results were evaluated and appropriate follow-up action was pursued.

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