Chemistry and Safety of Acrylamide in Food

Volume 561 of the series Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology pp 447-465

Effects of Consumer Food Preparation on Acrylamide Formation

  • Lauren S. JacksonAffiliated withU.S. Food and Drug Administration, National Center for Food Safety and Technology (NCFST)
  • , Fadwa Al-TaherAffiliated withIllinois Institute of Technology, NCFST

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Acrylamide is formed in high-carbohydrate foods during high temperature processes such as frying, baking, roasting and extrusion. Although acrylamide is known to form during industrial processing of food, high levels of the chemical have been found in home-cooked foods, mainly potato- and grain-based products. This chapter will focus on the effects of cooking conditions (e.g. time/temperature) on acrylamide formation in consumer-prepared foods, the use of surface color (browning) as an indicator of acrylamide levels in some foods, and methods for reducing acrylamide levels in home-prepared foods. As with commercially processed foods, acrylamide levels in home-prepared foods tend to increase with cooking time and temperature. In experiments conducted at the NCFST, we found that acrylamide levels in cooked food depended greatly on the cooking conditions and the degree of “doneness”, as measured by the level of surface browning. For example, French fries fried at 150–190°C for up to 10 min had acrylamide levels of 55 to 2130 µg/kg (wet weight), with the highest levels in the most processed (highest frying times/temperatures) and the most highly browned fries. Similarly, more acrylamide was formed in “dark” toasted bread slices (43.7–610.7 µg/kg wet weight), than “light” (8.27–217.5 µg/kg) or “medium” 10.9–213.7 µg/kg) toasted slices. Analysis of the surface color by colorimetry indicated that some components of surface color (“a” and “L” values) correlated highly with acrylamide levels. This indicates that the degree of surface browning could be used as an indicator of acrylamide formation during cooking. Soaking raw potato slices in water before frying was effective at reducing acrylamide levels in French fries. Additional studies are needed to develop practical methods for reducing acrylamide formation in home-prepared foods without changing the acceptability of these foods.

Key words

Acrylamide consumers cooking frying toasting bread potato browning