Correct Understanding of Glycidol


Cookies, sweet and flaky pastries, egg rolls…..are common bakery products on the market and the favourites of many people. Nevertheless, the results of food tests on many bakery products revealed that different chemical contaminants, including glycidol, were formed at high temperature processing.


What is glycidol?

Glycidol, also known as 2,3-epoxy-1-propanol, is derived from glycidyl esters (GEs) found in fats and oils. Upon intake of GEs through food consumption, it is broken down into glycidol in human digestion. The GEs contaminants are formed at high temperature (above 200°C) during the refining process of vegetable oils.


What kinds of food are containing glycidyl esters?

Foods that use shortening, margarine or refined vegetable oils as ingredients contain glycidyl esters. The GEs present in cookies, flaky pastries, shortbreads and cakes are mainly from the refined oils of the ingredients.


Impact on human health

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classifies glycidol as a Group 2A agent, which is probably carcinogenic to humans. The Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) suggests that intake of glycidol should be reduced to the “as low as reasonably achievable (ALARA)” but it has not set a maximum level of tolerable daily intake (TDI) of glycidol.


Advice for the industry

  • Choose appropriate suppliers to buy raw materials.
  • Adjust the formula to minimize the use of refined vegetable oils as far as practicable. 

Advice for the public

  • Maintain a balanced and varied diet, and preferably use moist-heat cooking methods, such as steaming and stewing.
  • As recommended by the “Healthy Eating Pyramid”, consumers should avoid food in rich of fats or oils.
  • While baking oily foods, such as cookies, try to make them turning into golden or bright yellow, and avoid extended baking time.