The food manufacturers must keep a check on the levels acrylamide in the food after the WHO identified the chemical as a cancer risk. The EU’s new “benchmark” levels for products range from 40 milligrams of acrylamide per kilogram for cereal-based baby food, to 350 for biscuits, 500 for chips and 750 for crisps.
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Found in a wide range of home-cooked and processed foods, including roasted potatoes and root vegetables, crisps and chips, Acrylamide forms naturally when frying, roasting or baking foods with a high starch content at high temperatures (over 120C).
“To achieve lower levels of acrylamide, food producers may cook food at a lower temperature but for longer, meaning the colour of food may become lighter”, Dr Lisa Ackerley, told Sky News. That means that the fries, chips and biscuits would lose signature golden brown colour and will come in a paler colour.
Analysts found Marks & Spencer’s sweet potato, parsnip and beetroot vegetable crisps contained 2,957 milligrams of acrylamide per kilogram – almost four times the EU benchmark level of 750 milligrams of acrylamide per kilogram.