LONDON — The E.U.’s Standing Committee on Plants, Animals, Food and Feed voted on July 19 to establish mitigation measures and benchmark levels for the reduction of acrylamide in food. Once implemented, the new regulations will require that food manufacturers apply mandatory measures to reduce the presence of acrylamide in proportion to the size and nature of their businesses.
Acrylamide is a substance that forms from naturally present free asparagine and sugars during high-temperature food processing. The European Food Safety Authority (E.F.S.A.) confirmed in 2015 that acrylamide is carcinogenic and that current levels of dietary exposure are of concern.
In the two years since this information came to light, the E.F.S.A. has expressed dissatisfaction in reduction efforts. E.U. member states, similarly, have found wide variation in reduction efforts implemented by food businesses. This proposed legislation is an attempt to establish measurable acrylamide-reduction targets for companies to shoot for.
|Vytenis Andriukaitis, commissioner for health and food safety|
“Today we took an important step in protecting the health and well-being of citizens,” said Vytenis Andriukaitis, commissioner for health and food safety. “The new regulation will not only help to reduce the presence of this carcinogenic substance, but also will help raise awareness on how to avoid the exposure to it that oftentimes comes from home-cooking.”
The approved proposal will now be sent to the European Council and the European Parliament. The two institutions will be given three months to examine it before final adoption by the European Commission. If approved, the legislation could go into effect by spring 2018.
The European Commission also plans to start discussions on additional acrylamide measures to potentially put into effect along with the already proposed legislation, such as setting maximum levels allowed in specific types of foods.
A full copy of the approved proposal can be found here.