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Enzymatic method reduces acrylamide levels in baked and fried foods.

In the past few years there has been a significant amount of interest in the levels of acrylamide in fried, baked and roasted products because of the potential carcinogenic risks associated with this compound. Acrylamide is produced naturally in certain foods when they are cooked at high temperatures. It is also manufactured industrially for use in the production of polyacrylamide gels, which are used for various purposes, including the treatment of drinking water and wastewater. Acrylamide is known to cause cancer in animals and, in high doses, can cause nerve damage in humans. Acrylamide also is formed as an intermediate in the Maillard reaction between the amino acid asparagine and reducing sugars.

Several methods have been evaluated for reducing the levels of acrylamide in various products. While some of these techniques have proven effective, they tend to have adverse effects on the quality of the product. Scientists at Novozymes have used an asparaginase derived from Aspergillus spp. to treat baked and fried products, such as biscuits, potato chips and french fries, in order to reduce the level of acrylamide.

The enzyme acts by converting asparagine present in potatoes and cereal products to aspartic acid, which is channeled through an alternate pathway in the Maillard reaction. In experiments, the substrates and other ingredients were subjected to standard processing techniques. The final products were analyzed for acrylamide using liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry. Sensory profiles were also analyzed by gas chromatography and a taste panel.

Results showed a range of 65% to 97% in reduced acrylamide levels in fabricated potato chips, semi-sweet biscuits, ginger nuts and french fries without any adverse effects on product appearance and taste. This asparaginase-mediated process is a technology that could be used for controlling levels of acrylamide in a variety of foods, reducing the potential risks associated with high levels of acrylamide.

Further information. Hanne Hendriksen, Novozymes A/S, Krogshoejvej 36, 2880 Bagsvaerd, Denmark; phone: +45 88 24 99 99; fax: +45 88 24 99 98; URL:
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Publication:Emerging Food R&D Report
Date:Jun 1, 2008
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