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Furan in heat processed food products including home cooked food products and ready-to-eat products

on the Wiley Online Library


This external report is not an EFSA output as such but the output of a scientific or technical project that EFSA has funded to support its work in accordance with Article 36 of its Founding Regulation. The report was produced by the beneficiaries of an EFSA grant following a call for proposals published on the EFSA website and is published here to help keep the public informed of developments related to EFSA’s scientific work. EFSA reserves its rights, view and position as regards the issues addressed and conclusions reached in the present document, without prejudice to the rights of the authors.


Furan has been found to be formed in canned, jarred and roasted food items and high levels of furan have been found in coffee. As furan is carcinogenic in animal experiments attention has been drawn to the presence in commercial and home-cooked foods. In the present study performed by the the National Food Institute at the Technical University of Denmark, the formation of furan in home cooked foods as well as the stability of furan during cooking, saving and reheating of the meals are presented. Home cooked foods having high levels of carbohydrates are most likely to form furan for instance are furan levels found in toasted bread slices, French fries and crisps correlated with the browning level. As worst case scenarios, foods were home cooked using canned ingredients which contained furan. However, this did not lead to elevated levels of furan in the prepared home cooked foods. For ready-to-eat foods with an initial level of furan, cooking reduced the level of furan in the food to about half the original content probably due to evaporation of furan during heating. Nevertheless furan is relatively stable in heated foods left for cooling where the losses of furan were insignificant. Samples of breakfast cereals and dry bread products have relatively high levels of furan and also bakeware like biscuits, cookies; snacks like crisps, popcorn etc. and sundried fruit and vegetables like raisins, tomatoes contained furan. An estimate of the furan intake for Danish adults revealed that 95% was from consumption of coffee, whereas the food group contributing most to Danish children’s intake of furan is the breakfast cereals

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