Learn About Acrylamide


What is acrylamide?

Acrylamide is an industrial chemical that is used in the production of polyacrylamide. Studies have found that fried and baked carbohydrate-rich food contains higher levels of acrylamide.


Acrylamide and food

  1. In addition to acrylamide formed during the burning of tobacco, studies have indicated food that is cooked or processed at high temperature contributes to the formation of acrylamide;
  2. The formation of acrylamide usually takes place during high temperature (>120) processing such as frying, baking, roasting, toasting and grilling. It is mainly formed in the Maillard reaction when the free amino acid asparagine reacts with the reducing sugars (especially glucose and fructose) that are present in food;
  3. Carbohydrate-rich food that is cooked or processed at high temperature, such as potato chips, crisps, baked food and fried vegetables, is the major dietary source of acrylamide;
  4. Food prepared by boiling does not usually produce acrylamide.

Hazard of acrylamide

  1. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has evaluated the carcinogenicity of acrylamide and it has classified acrylamide as "probably carcinogenic to humans" (Group 2A) after taking into consideration its genotoxic properties and evidence of carcinogenicity in animals.  However, the IARC has also pointed out currently there is inadequate evidence in humans for the carcinogenicity of acrylamide.
  2. Currently, epidemiological studies do not provide any consistent evidence that occupational exposure or dietary exposure to acrylamide is associated with cancer in humans.

Advice to the trade

  1. Purchase food ingredients from reputable suppliers;
  2. The trade should seek ways to reduce the level of acrylamide in food, for example:
  • Do not over bake food;
  • Blanch vegetables before frying and avoid frying vegetables for too long or at too high a temperature;
  • Frying temperature should not be too high and the food should not be overcooked;
  • When preparing bread, avoid adding reducing sugars in the recipe and avoid excessive browning of the crust.

Advice to the public

  1. Purchase food from reputable shops;
  2. Avoid cooking food for too long or at too high a temperature. May consider blanching the vegetables before frying, or cooking them by boiling or steaming;
  3. Maintain a balanced and varied diet and consume less over-baked or over-fried food.