What is acrylamide?

The substance acrylamide is formed during the strong heating of starchy foods and is found especially in baked goods, coffee and potato products such as chips and chips. For some time acrylamide is suspected of being carcinogenic and altering the genome. Therefore, the European Union has set binding rules that will apply from 2018. If some rules are observed when preparing food, the formation of acrylamide can be reduced.

Acrylamide: properties and formation

Acrylamide belongs to the chemical group of amides and has been used industrially for over 50 years for the production of plastics and for the treatment of drinking water. In the preparation of food, it is when carbohydrates such as starch or sugar are heated above 120 degrees Celsius and combine with the protein component asparagine. If the temperatures exceed 180 degrees Celsius, acrylamide formation increases significantly.

How dangerous is acrylamide?

In 2002, the substance hit the headlines when it was found in animal studies that acrylamide can alter the genome and cause cancer. It is also thought to damage the nervous system in high doses. In humans, these relationships have not yet been clearly demonstrated.

Nevertheless, the European Union also classifies acrylamide as a carcinogen for humans. From April 2018, therefore, legal requirements apply to food manufacturers. For example, in the processing of starchy goods such as potatoes or flour, they must be careful not to overheat or overheat the food during baking, roasting, roasting or frying. Also, the raw products should have the lowest possible starch content, for example, by blanching potatoes before frying.

Acrylamide: reduce stress

Due to the potential health hazard, it is recommended to minimize the intake of acrylamide. Use the following tips to reduce the exposure to acrylamide:

  • Gentle preparation: Raw food as well as cooked and steamed foods contain virtually no acrylamide. When using a fryer, a temperature of 175 degrees Celsius should not be exceeded, in the oven it should be below 180 degrees Celsius with circulating air and below 200 degrees Celsius without recirculation. Use baking soda or baking soda instead of staghorn salt (ammonium bicarbonate) as it promotes acrylamide formation.
  • Avoid strong browning: In general, the darker browned baked goods, French fries and other potato products are, the higher the acrylamide content. When preparing these foods, make sure that they are not browned too much.
  • Proper storage: Potatoes should not be stored for longer periods in the refrigerator (below 8 degrees Celsius), because then more sugar is produced, from which acrylamide is formed. A dark storage prevents green spots that contain much acrylamide.
  • Avoid acrylamide-containing foods: The highest acrylamide levels were measured in potato chips, French fries, biscuits, and roasted coffee. Enjoy these foods in moderation and prefer home-cooked products. So you have influence on the heat and browning degree.
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