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Acrylamide Questions and Answers
Updated November 14, 2013
What is acrylamide?
Acrylamide is a chemical that can form in some foods during high-temperature cooking processes, such as frying, roasting, and baking. Acrylamide in food forms from sugars and an amino acid that are naturally present in food; it does not come from food packaging or the environment.
Is there a risk from eating foods that contain acrylamide?
Acrylamide caused cancer in animals in studies where animals were exposed to acrylamide at very high doses. In 2010, the Joint Food and Agriculture Organization/World Health Organization Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) concluded that acrylamide is a human health concern, and suggested additional long-term studies. FDA experts participated in the evaluation and provided data from new research studies on acrylamide risk.
Is acrylamide something new in food? When was acrylamide first detected in food?
Acrylamide has probably always been present in cooked foods. However, acrylamide was first detected in certain foods in April 2002.
How does acrylamide form in food?
Acrylamide forms from sugars and an amino acid (asparagine) during certain types of high-temperature cooking, such as frying, roasting, and baking.
What kinds of cooking lead to acrylamide formation? In what foods?
High temperature cooking, such as frying, roasting, or baking, is most likely to cause acrylamide formation. Boiling and steaming do not typically form acrylamide. Acrylamide is found mainly in foods made from plants, such as potato products, grain products, or coffee. Acrylamide does not form, or forms at lower levels, in dairy, meat, and fish products. Generally, acrylamide is more likely to accumulate when cooking is done for longer periods or at higher temperatures. (See Acrylamide: Information on Diet, Food Storage, and Food Preparation.)
What FDA data are available on acrylamide levels in U.S. foods?
FDA has posted its current data on acrylamide in foods on the FDA web site at Acrylamide in Food. The most recent data were added to the website in 2006.
Are acrylamide levels in organic foods different from levels in other foods?
Since acrylamide is formed through cooking, acrylamide levels in cooked organic foods should be similar to levels in cooked non-organic foods.
What is FDA doing about acrylamide in food?
The FDA has initiated a number of activities on acrylamide since the discovery of acrylamide in food in 2002, including toxicology research, analytical methodology development, food surveys, exposure assessments, formation and mitigation research, and draft guidance for industry. Information on FDA’s activities on acrylamide in food can be found at the agency’s acrylamide page.
Should I stop eating foods that are fried, roasted, or baked?
No. FDA's best advice for acrylamide and eating is that consumers adopt a healthy eating plan, consistent with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (2010), that emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products; includes lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs, and nuts; and is low in saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, salt (sodium) and added sugars.
Is acrylamide found anywhere else?
Acrylamide is produced industrially for use in products such as plastics, grouts, water treatment products, and cosmetics. Acrylamide is also found in cigarette smoke.