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High profile contaminant is increasing in European biscuits, despite industry efforts.

SCIENTISTS from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) have warned that the amount of the potentially harmful contaminant acrylamide appearing in biscuits is increasing despite industry efforts to reduce its presence.

Figures released this month (May) by EFSA say tests showed the average presence of acrylamide in European Union (EU) biscuits in 2007 was 317 ?g/kg, while between 2003 and 2006 it was 243 ?g/kg. United Nations food health experts have concluded that acrylamide is potentially carcinogenic and genotoxic, and as a result, the EU food industry has developed voluntary 'toolbox' guidelines preventing the formation of acrylamide, which usually results in baked and fried foods via the reaction of asparagine and reducing sugars at temperatures higher than 120C. Under the toolbox, manufacturers have been reducing sugars; controlling cooking temperatures and times; replacing ammonium bicarbonate and other measures. And while this policy seems to have worked for coffee, bread, potato crisps and other products (including gingerbread and cocoa products), for biscuits (plus breakfast cereals and chips) it has not. An EFSA note said: "This trend is not uniform across food groups and therefore it is not yet clear if the acrylamide toolbox had its desired effects." EU member states (and Norway) participating in the survey did not reveal which kinds of biscuits they were testing.
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Author:Nuthall, Keith
Publication:International News
Date:May 1, 2009
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