Acrylamide is an organic chemical compound that has gained considerable attention due to concerns about its potential carcinogenic effects on human health. This is a substance whose presence in food is causing increasing concern. Therefore, in this article we will take a closer look at this issue, considering legal regulations, sources of its presence in food, actions taken by producers to minimize its presence in products, as well as the health effects of consuming it with food.

Acrylamide is formed as a result of a chemical reaction between reducing sugars and asparagine, during thermal treatment carried out at high temperatures (above 120˚C) and in limited humidity. This substance may be present in food products in various amounts. Its content may be particularly high in processed products such as French fries or chips. However, acrylamide levels can vary significantly depending on preparation and heat treatment. Products rich in starch and sugar, such as potatoes, bread and cookies, are particularly vulnerable to the formation of this compound when frying, baking or grilling. In the case of coffee, acrylamide is formed during the roasting process of the beans.

In 2018, the European Union introduced restrictive regulations regarding the content of acrylamide in food. These regulations require manufacturers to monitor and limit the levels of acrylamide in food products, especially in the group of products most exposed to the formation of this substance (potato products, bread, baked goods, coffee). They aim to protect public health by minimizing exposure to the substance. Detailed regulations are contained in Commission Regulation (EU) 2017/2158 of 20 November 2017 laying down mitigating measures and reference levels for the reduction of the presence of acrylamide in food, as amended.

Food manufacturers are taking various actions to reduce the presence of acrylamide in their products. They introduce technological innovations, e.g. by reducing the temperature and time of thermal processing. They also use special technologies and additives that can reduce the risk of acrylamide formation during the thermal treatment process.

Reports and opinions of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the World Health Organization (WHO) are crucial in understanding the problem of the presence of acrylamide in food and in developing appropriate risk management strategies.

EFSA regularly assesses the risk of acrylamide in food, analyzing available scientific data on its toxicity and impact on human health. In one of the reports, it stated that the substance described is a potential carcinogen for humans, which prompts action to minimize its occurrence in food.

In turn, WHO, as a global organization responsible for promoting public health, in its reports and recommendations regarding acrylamide in food, focuses on monitoring it and educating the public in order to minimize the risk associated with this substance. The organization emphasizes the need to control technological processes in the food industry and educate consumers about health.

Reports and opinions of EFSA and WHO constitute the basis for politicians and food producers to take actions to protect public health. Their scientific analyzes and recommendations serve as a reference for creating regulations, developing industrial strategies and informing the public about the risks of acrylamide in food. Acrylamide limits in food products are typically set based on consumer health risk assessments, setting maximum permissible levels of acrylamide in various food products. Their work makes it possible to make more informed decisions about food safety and public health.

The presence of acrylamide in food raises concerns due to potential health risks, therefore legal regulations, actions of producers and public awareness of this problem are important to minimize its presence. Research into its effects on human health is still ongoing, and further preventive measures may be necessary as new information becomes available. However, limiting your consumption of processed foods and preferring fresh, natural products can help reduce your exposure to this substance.

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