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acrylamide

April 13, 2018

Acrylamide back in the spotlight

Last year, acrylamide was brought into the public eye as the Food Standards Agency (FSA) warned over its dangerous effects.

As we took you through in our blog Acrylamide in the spotlight, acrylamide is chemical that is naturally created  when starch-rich foods are roasted, baked, fried and grilled at particularly high temperatures over a long period of time. It is thought to be carcinogenic after animal research found it to be cancer-causing, though the effects on humans are still unknown.

Good practice in the home has been encouraged by the FSA for the past year, and we outlined some ‘quick wins’ in our previously mentioned blog. But it has not been clear as to what was expected from industry when the new EU legislation came in in April 2018 (which was meant to take effect on the 11th.)

However, the deadline has come and gone and what we are lacking in this initiative is clear guidance.

What we do know

In November 2017, advice for food business operators (FBOs) was published by the FSA pre-warning that practical steps to manage acrylamide would have to be put in place within food safety management systems.

This included:

  • 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.

What’s missing

What remains unclear, in lieu of  steer from the EU is:

  • Which businesses will be required to comply with the more onerous parts of the legislation, such as sampling arrangements.
  • Clear guidance on what those in the hospitality sector will be required to do to comply with the legislation.
  • What particular foodstuffs fall into the scope as although there is an annex detailing these, there are many other foods high in starch content that could be at risk.

What can be done for now

Whilst we wait for EU legislation to be confirmed, we advise all FBOs to continue to follow the good practice you have been doing for the last year. Food and Drink Europe produced a toolkit with some useful resources.

Our partner, UKHospitality, has released interim guidance they have been working on with the FSA, FSS and other stakeholders which makes for a good starting point. Until the EU has finalised the legislation their side, there is still some areas where clarification is needed. Once this is done, UKHospitality will then be able to finalise their acrylamide guidance which will act as a key tool for industry and enforcers alike.

Shield Safety Group will also be updating their Food Safety Management Systems once we receive clarification and all Shield Safety clients will be notified of how these changes will affect them. As soon as we know, you’ll know!

The information contained in this blog article has been created for marketing purposes and is not official guidance and should not be used as a substitute for official Food Safety, Fire Safety and Health & Safety advice. Shield Safety take no responsibility if the information in the blog article is used to form part of a safety management system or used to form part of any legal or regulatory compliance for your business. For official guidance and to engage with Shield Safety services please do call our team on 020 3740 3744 or email hello@shieldsafety.co.uk.