Scientific Opinion on acrylamide in food
EFSA was asked to deliver a scientific opinion on acrylamide (AA) in food. AA has widespread uses as an industrial chemical. It is also formed when certain foods are prepared at temperatures above 120 °C and low moisture, especially in foods containing asparagine and reducing sugars. The CONTAM Panel evaluated 43 419 analytical results from food commodities. AA was found at the highest levels in solid coffee substitutes and coffee, and in potato fried products. Mean and 95th percentile dietary AA exposures across surveys and age groups were estimated at 0.4 to 1.9 µg/kg body weight (b.w.) per day and 0.6 to 3.4 µg/kg b.w. per day, respectively. The main contributor to total dietary exposure was generally the category ‘Potato fried products (except potato crisps and snacks)’. Preferences in home-cooking can have a substantial impact on human dietary AA exposure. Upon oral intake, AA is absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract and distributed to all organs. AA is extensively metabolised, mostly by conjugation with glutathione but also by epoxidation to glycidamide (GA). Formation of GA is considered to represent the route underlying the genotoxicity and carcinogenicity of AA. Neurotoxicity, adverse effects on male reproduction, developmental toxicity and carcinogenicity were identified as possible critical endpoints for AA toxicity from experimental animal studies. The data from human studies were inadequate for dose-response assessment. The CONTAM Panel selected BMDL10 values of 0.43 mg/kg b.w. per day for peripheral neuropathy in rats and of 0.17 mg/kg b.w. per day for neoplastic effects in mice. The Panel concluded that the current levels of dietary exposure to AA are not of concern with respect to non-neoplastic effects. However, although the epidemiological associations have not demonstrated AA to be a human carcinogen, the margins of exposure (MOEs) indicate a concern for neoplastic effects based on animal evidence.