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Latest FSA figures on furan and acrylamide and reducing acrylamide levels in potato chips

24 April 13

In response to the European Commission, as part of a rolling programme, the Food Standards Agency has released its recent updated findings on the levels of acrylamide (a suspected carcinogen formed during a heat induced reaction between sugar and asparagine) and furan (formed from the thermal degradation of sugars, oxidation of polyunsaturated fatty or decomposition of vitamin C) in food. Their findings are based on analysis of 300 products, 294 were analysed for acrylamide and 113 analysed for furan, which were collected from November 2011 to December 2012.  Although 17 products sampled had levels which exceeded the indicative value for their food group, “levels of acrylamide and furan do not increase concern about the risk to human health and the Agency has not changed its advice to consumers.”    Also a study published in Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture has investigated whether type of potato, frying temperature and blanching times can affect acrylamide levels in potato chips.  Shojaee-Ailabadi et al. investigated three potato varieties grown in Iran: Agria, Santa, and Savalan.  The potatoes were blanched at either 75oC for nine minutes or 83oC for two and a half minutes at a ratio of 100 potato slices in 10 litres of water.  The effect of three frying temperatures (170, 180 and 190 °C) on acrylamide formation was also studied just for the Agria potato variety by frying 20 potatoes in a fryer containing 5 litres of oil.  To eliminate the starch, the potatoes were sliced at 1.5mm thickness and rinsed and soaked in distilled water for one minute.    Using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry the team analysed the acrylamide content of the potatoes.  Shojaee-Ailabadi et al found that the Sante variety potatoes, which contained the highest amount of reducing sugars, had the highest acrylamide content (8825 µg kg−1).  However the variety, Savalan which had the highest asparagine levels had the lowest amount of acrylamide.  The scientists note that this was due to lower reducing sugar content.  Blanching at 75oC for 9 minutes was most efficient in reducing acrylamide formation, reducing it by around 74%.  Increased frying temperatures were found to lead to significant increases in acrylamide formation.  The study concludes by stating: “Potato variety and processing conditions were important parameters for acrylamide formation in potato chips. The combination of a suitable variety and appropriate processing conditions could considerably reduce acrylamide content.”

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