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Acrylamide legislation

Food business operators (FBOs) in the UK will be required to put in place practical steps to manage acrylamide within their food safety management systems under new EU legislation which will apply from April 2018[2]. The legislation describes practical measures based upon best practice, mitigation measures and benchmark levels for the reduction of acrylamide in food.

Acrylamide forms naturally during high temperature cooking and processing, such as frying, roasting and baking, particularly in potato-based products and cereal-based products. It is not possible to eliminate acrylamide from foods, but actions can be taken to try and ensure that acrylamide levels are as low as reasonably achievable.

Mitigation methods have been drawn from the various codes of practice that have been developed by various sector specific trade bodies who have investigated how to reduce acrylamide in different foods.

Benchmark levels are generic performance indicators for the food categories covered by the Regulation. They are not maximum limits and are not intended to be used for enforcement purposes.

Industry guidance has been developed by various food sectors at national and EU level, including the acrylamide tool box maintained by Food Drink Europe. The Food Standards Agency (FSA) and Food Standards Scotland (FSS) are working with the British Hospitality Association (BHA) and other trade associations to develop a best practice guide for FBOs in the catering and foodservice industry. This is expected to be finalised and available from the BHA in early 2018. The FSA is also developing guidelines to assist local authorities in the implementation and enforcement of the new requirements.

Food Business Operators will be expected to:

• Be aware of acrylamide as a food safety hazard and have a general understanding of how acrylamide is formed in the food they produce

• Take the necessary steps to mitigate acrylamide formation in the food they produce, adopting the relevant measures as part of their food safety management procedures

• Undertake representative sampling and analysis where appropriate, to monitor the levels of acrylamide in their products as part of their assessment of the mitigation measures

• Keep appropriate records of the mitigation measures undertaken, together with sampling plans and results of any testing.

The measures are intended to be proportionate to the nature and size of the business, to ensure that small and micro-businesses are not burdened. The new legislation applies to all FBOs that produce or place on the market the following foods:

• French fries, other cut (deep fried) products and sliced potato crisps from fresh potatoes

• Potato crisps, snacks, crackers and other potato products from potato dough

• Bread

• Breakfast cereals (excluding porridge)

• Fine bakery wares: cookies, biscuits, rusks, cereal bars, scones, cornets, wafers, crumpets and gingerbread, as well as crackers, crisp breads and bread substitutes

• Coffee: (i) roast coffee (ii) instant (soluble) coffee

• Coffee substitutes

• Baby food and processed cereal-based food intended for infants and young children.

Different requirements apply to local and independent FBOs selling food directly to the consumer or directly into local retail, for example, independent cafes, fish and chip shops and restaurants. For larger centrally controlled and supplied chains with standardised menus and operating procedures, the controls of acrylamide can be managed from the centre.

References

2. https://www.food.gov.uk/news-updates/news/2017/16749/new-eu-acrylamide-legislation

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