Monday, September 6, 2010


Acrylamide, ever since its advent on the food safety scenario, continues to attract attention from the scientific community though there is no unanimity regarding the health risks posed by this processing artifact formed in fried and baked goods. Its discovery in 2002 by a Swedish scientific group, initially raised serious apprehension regarding its impact on health but even to day there is no conclusive proof that Acrylamide, at the current levels in most processed foods, poses any danger to the consumers. As long as foods are "browned" during processing, especially at temperatures beyond 150C and liked by the consumers, formation of Acrylamide cannot be stopped and presence of reducing sugars and asparagine at high levels is bound to elevate its level in the end products. New approaches like using enzymes to reduce Acrylamide formation during thermal processing may not be feasible unless more serious safety questions crop up in future. On a theoretical level, use of poly phenols and other inhibitors of Acrylamide generating reactions may be of interest, at least for the scientific community.

"Given that acrylamide formation was very low at 115oC, a temperature of 125oC was chosen to examine the effects of phenolic compounds (trolox, ferulic acid, gallic acid, protocatechuic acid and caffeic acid) on acrylamide formation. The addition of standard phenolic compounds, containing hydroxyl phenyl groups in to the emulsion model resulted in reduction of acrylamide content, with the research showing such compounds to be effective in acrylamide mitigation. Reduction in acrylamide formation was observed to be at its best during the initial stage of heating – where it was seen to reach up to 70 per cent for trolox, gallic acid and protocatechuic acid and up to 50 per cent for ferulic and caffeic acid. Such reductions are not as great as those seen with commercial approaches, such as enzymes. Products from both Novozymes and DSM are said to be able to reduce acrylamide formation by up to 90 per cent".

While proposing use of poly phenolic substances like gallic acid for acrylamide reduction, the bitter taste of these additives on the acceptability of the end product has not been factored into the suggestion. The study is basically in liquid phase emulsion systems where as in reality acrylamides are formed mostly in solid, and semisolid food systems and as such might not be of interest to the main stream food industry. Such studies often raises a disturbing question as to the relevance of many similar studies by food scientists and optimal use of precious research resources.


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