The European Commission (EC) is planning to set maximum levels for acrylamide in ready-to-eat foods such as baby foods, crisps and breakfast cereals, reports food.navigator.com.

The actual levels and the full list of affected foods would be decided later this year following the adoption of strengthened regulations on acrylamide (see News, OFI January 2017), the report on 9 February said.

Acrylamide is a chemical substance formed by a reaction between amino acids and sugars. It typically occurs when foods with high starch content such as potatoes, root vegetables and bread, are cooked at high temperatures (over 120°C) in a process of frying, roasting or baking.

The World Health Organization and the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization have stated that the levels of acrylamide in foods pose a “major concern”.

The European Food Safety Authority noted in June 2015 that acrylamide “potentially increases the risk of developing cancer for consumers in all age groups”.

The EC’s mandatory mitigation measures being proposed would require food business operators to evaluate the risk of acrylamide formation for their products, devise measures to reduce the risk, monitor their own systems and present samples for analysis, said food.navigator.com. Official controls and analysis would also be carried out.