US scientists home in on toxic deep-frying

Related tags Acrylamide Health

The National Toxicology Program in the US is to launch a probe into
the health risks posed by commercial deep-frying of crisps, chips
and carbohydrate-rich foods.

In 2002 the Swedish Food Administration discovered high levels of compound acrylamide in carbohydrate-rich foods when cooked at high temperatures. The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) has now selected acrylamide for risk evaluation after widespread concerns that it might pose human health risks.

Earlier studies have found acrylamide to be a health hazard and laboratory studies on animals suggest it can induce cancer, cause genetic damage in sperm and have adverse effects on reproduction and development.

These early findings have already prompted global research efforts. DSM Baking Enzymes, a division of Dutch chemicals firm DSM , claims to have designed a method of eliminating acrylamide from bakery products through applied genomics technology. The DSM method, which the company will present at the ICC Cereal and Bread Congress later this month, degrades the free amino acid L-asparagine formed when temperatures exceed 1200C.

The new scientific review aims to determine whether exposure to acrylamide is a hazard to reproductive health or child development, and will be chaired by the Center for the Evaluation of Risks to Human Reproduction (CERHR), established by the NIEHS National Toxicology Program. CERHR selects chemicals for evaluation based on several factors, including production volume, extent of human exposure, public concern, and published evidence of reproductive or developmental toxicity.

Acrylamide is also to be found in the production of polyacrylamide, which is used in water treatment, pulp and paper production and mineral processing, as well as in the synthesis of dyes, adhesives, contact lenses, soil conditioners, cosmetics, food packaging materials and permanent press fabrics.

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