EFSA updates data on furan in food

News Story
30 July 2010

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has issued a report updating results of monitoring on the levels of furan found in food. In order to allow a better estimate of dietary exposure to furan, the European Commission asks that Member States collect data on furan levels in heat-treated commercial food products. A first report on these findings was published by EFSA in 2009 and the current update brings additional data to the compilation.

Furan is an organic compound formed during heat-treatment which has been shown to be carcinogenic in animal laboratory studies.

Altogether, seventeen Member States and Norway submitted to EFSA’s Data Collection and Exposure unit (DATEX) the analytical results for a total of 4,186 food samples collected between 2004 and 2009. The data show that furan occurs in a variety of heat-treated foods, in particular coffee and canned products, including jarred baby food.

EFSA recommends that future testing for furan should target products on which there are limited data and that tests should also provide a detailed analysis of samples before and after cooking, with a precise indication of cooking time, temperature and handling.

EFSA specifies that the reduction of furan formation in food seems to be more challenging compared to other process contaminants, such as acrylamide, since furan formation is closely connected with the taste and smell of foods. EFSA adds that a comprehensive risk assessment will require more detailed exposure assessment data, as well as better information on the toxicity of furan.


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Tel: +39 0521 036 149
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