EU Regulation on Acrylamide in Food - Compliance Digest

December 15, 2017

In this edition of the Compliance Digest, we cover an EU food safety regulation that aims to reduce the presence of the chemical acrylamide in food products.

Mitigation Measures and Benchmark Levels for the Reduction of the Presence of Acrylamide in Food

What is it?

On November 21, 2017, the European Commission published a new food safety regulation that aims to reduce the presence of the chemical acrylamide in food products. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) had previously determined that acrylamide in food potentially increases the risk of cancer for consumers of all ages.

Acrylamide forms from asparagine and sugars in certain foods when prepared at temperatures typically higher than 120 degrees Celsius. It forms mainly in baked or fried carbohydrate-rich foods where raw materials contain its precursors, such as cereals, potatoes and coffee beans.

Who is affected?

The regulation affects food business operators that produce and place on the market the following food products:

  • French fries, other cut (deep fried) products and sliced potato crisps (known as “chips” in North America) from fresh potatoes
  • Potato crisps, snacks, crackers and other potato products from potato dough
  • Bread
  • Breakfast cereals (excluding porridge)
  • Fine bakery items: cookies, biscuits, rusks, cereal bars, scones, cornets, wafers, crumpets and gingerbread, as well as crackers, crisp breads and bread substitutes.
  • Coffee, roast coffee, instant (soluble) coffee, and coffee substitutes
  • Baby food and processed cereal-based food intended for infants and young children

What are the requirements?

Food business operators that produce and place on the market food products listed in the previous section have requirements that vary based on the food type. Here are the food types along with the page numbers of the regulation document that include the required mitigation measures:

  • Products based on raw potatoes: Pages 6-8
  • Dough-based potato crisps, snacks, crackers and other dough-based potato products: Pages 8-9
  • Fine bakery items: Pages 9-11
  • Breakfast cereals: Pages 11-12
  • Coffee and coffee substitutes: Pages 12-13
  • Baby biscuits and infant cereals: Pages 13-15
  • Baby jar foods: Page 15
  • Bread: Page 16

Food operators that perform retail activities, and/or directly supply only local retail establishments have different requirements. The required mitigation measures are listed on page 17 of the regulation document. Also, if these types of companies operate in facilities under their direct control and operate under one trademark or commercial license, they have to apply additional mitigation measures, which are found on page 18.

Most food operators will have to establish a program for sampling and analysis of the levels of acrylamide in their products. Here are some examples of benchmark levels for acrylamide (lowest to highest):

  • Cereal-based baby food: 40 milligrams per kilogram
  • Many types of breakfast cereals: 300
  • Biscuits: 350
  • Roast coffee: 400
  • French fries: 500
  • Crisps (aka “Chips” in North America): 750
  • Instant coffee: 850
  • Coffee substitutes exclusively from chicory: 4,000

What is next?

The European Council and the European Parliament will have three months to review the regulation, which will then be published in the Official Journal of the European Union and take effect on April 11, 2018.

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