Acrylamide was identified as a hazardous artifact produced in foods containing reducing carbohydrates and the amino acid Asparagine at high temperatures which are encountered during frying and baking. Though many countries are still to wake up to the dangers posed by this toxic substance, at international levels ways and means of overcoming this hazard are seriously being pursued. The reported development of a process to reduce Acrylamide in processed foods using yeast has been claimed by one of the private companies, anticipating the potential business that may be generated for such a technology. As the technology is protected under IPO regime, very little technical information is being provided by the innovators.
'The World Health Organization (WHO) categorizes acrylamide as a Group 2A carcinogen, along with substances such as lead, creosotes, PCBs, diesel exhaust and urethane. As well, California health officials recently proposed that acrylamide be listed as a known reproductive toxicant, under Proposition 65, in addition to its inclusion as a carcinogen since 1990. Acrylamide has also been recently added to the candidate list for inclusion on the European Union's Substances of Very High Concern (SVHC) following a unanimous decision by an expert EU health panel. Importantly, national food safety regulatory bodies and the food industry have been cooperating closely on approaches aimed at reducing acrylamide levels in processed foods.
"Acrylamide is a high-priority concern among consumers, the food industry and health regulators around the world," said Garth Greenham, president and COO of Functional Technologies. "Preliminary lab testing is positive and we're very excited to utilize yeast, with its long history of use and familiarity in the food industry, to help resolve this important health concern."
One of the possibilities could be to make, one of the two components required for Acrylamide formation immobile, using some yeast constituents so that the amide forming reaction is arrested. Whether this new technology will be useful with all the products like potato chips, french fried potatoes, fritters etc is not known now. The intake limitation for Acrylamide is estimated at 0.5 mg/kg body weight/day and the current average daily consumption is not more than a few micrograms per kg body weight, considered safe. The chance of getting cancer is 1 in 10000 if one consumes heavy Acrylamide containing foods regularly which in practice is not possible considering that highest levels detected in foods so far do not exceed 1 mg per kg. Against this back ground, whether the new technology will be of any relevance to day remains to be seen.