Eighty scientists from 22 countries, mainly from the European Union, and also Switzerland, the United States and Brazil, gathered at a scientific colloquium organised by EFSA in Tabiano near Parma, Italy, to debate the current state and future challenges regarding the potential toxicity and cancer risk associated with dietary exposure to acrylamide. Acrylamide is a contaminant that can be formed during the preparation of food at high temperatures, particularly in starchy foods such as crisps, French fries and bread.
The colloquium was organised to stimulate an open exchange of views and expertise on new information on acrylamide that has become available since the Joint FAO/WHO expert committee on food additives (JECFA) carried out a risk assessment of acrylamide in 2005, classifying acrylamide as a potentially harmful substance in food.
In 2005, EFSA’s scientific Panel on Contaminants in the Food Chain (CONTAM) agreed with the principal conclusions and recommendations of the JECFA, that there may be human health concerns associated with acrylamide exposure and recommended a re-evaluation once new data on carcinogenicity or human biomarkers of acrylamide became available. Hence, the scientists at the colloquium explored whether the new evidence in epidemiology, human biomarkers, carcinogenicity and dietary exposure would call for a revision of the previous risk assessment of acrylamide in food.
The consensus among the scientists was that the latest evaluation on acrylamide carried out by JECFA agreed by EFSA, was still relevant and that there is currently no need to revise the risk assessment. However, additional new data are expected to become available within the next year that may reduce uncertainties and hence may call for revision of the risk assessment advice.