Policy Position

FDF is committed to working with FoodDrinkEurope, regulatory authorities and others to reduce exposure to acrylamide from processed food. FDF has contributed to and supports the development of the FoodDrinkEurope Acrylamide ‘Toolbox’ as an alternative to legislation and continues to promote its use through a variety of events and activities, including a series of webinars.



Acrylamide was first found to be present in food by Swedish scientists in 2002. It is formed by the reaction of the amino acid asparagine with reducing sugars (especially glucose and fructose) and is found mainly in carbohydrate-rich foods cooked at high temperatures, such as potato and cereal-based products, and coffee. It is believed that acrylamide has always been present in food as a result of cooking, whether in the domestic kitchen or at industrial scale.

Whilst acrylamide was classified as 'probably carcinogenic to humans', the risk to public health at the levels found in food remains somewhat unclear (See EFSA opinion below). As a precautionary approach, manufacturers adopted mitigation strategies aimed at reducing levels based on the principle of ALARA (As Low As Reasonably Achievable). No limit has been specified for the presence of acrylamide in food. A European Commission Recommendation of 10 January 2011 on investigations into the levels of acrylamide in food has established a series of “indicative values” were published under Commission Recommendation of 8 November 2013 on investigations into the levels of acrylamide in food.These “indicative values” are not prescribed by law, however Member States are recommended to carry out investigations in cases where the levels of acrylamide in a foodstuff, identified by on going routine monitoring, exceeds the relevant indicative value.

These “indicative values” are not prescribed by law, however Member States are recommended to carry out investigations in cases where the levels of acrylamide in a foodstuff, identified by ongoing routine monitoring, exceeds the relevant indicative value.

More than 200 research projects have been carried out at an EU and international level to improve understanding of the formation of acrylamide in food, identify what can be done to reduce levels and clarify the possible risk to human health. In particular, the food industry has conducted a significant research programme and individual companies / trade associations have shared information via FoodDrinkEurope to accelerate the implementation of possible steps to reduce acrylamide levels in food.

There is no single solution to reduce acrylamide levels in the range of foods in which it has been found. FoodDrinkEurope has therefore developed and maintained a Acrylamide Toolbox which summarises the reduction measures identified by industry to date. The latest revision of the FoodDrinkEurope Toolbox was published on 10 January 2014. This can also be found on the European Commission’s website alongside other relevant information on the subject.

The Toolbox allows individual manufacturers, including SMEs with limited R&D resources, to evaluate the suitability of the 'tools' with regard to their products and their manufacturing process / equipment whilst continuing to provide consumers with high quality products consistent with their brand image and consumer expectations. Some of these 'tools' could also be relevant to reduce levels of acrylamide formed during food preparation in catering establishments and in the home.

The Toolbox has been supported by the EU and national authorities and the Codex Code of Practice on Acrylamide also draws on this approach.

Considerable progress has already been made by the food industry in reducing levels of acrylamide in e.g. potato crisps (30-40%); potato fries (15%); and crispbread (75%); but more work is needed, for example on certain types of coffee to understand the mechanism of formation and the effects of agronomy and processing.

To inform SMEs of these developments, FoodDrinkEurope's Process Contaminants Expert Group has prepared a series of pamphlets on biscuits, cereals, crisps, bread and French fries . These highlight relevant effective acrylamide mitigation strategies and raise awareness of the Toolbox approach. The pamphlets, which have been translated into several European languages, are available alongside the Toolbox on the DG Sanco Website and are used by national authorities. The pamphlets were last updated on 2 June 2012.

On 4 June 2015, EFSA published their Scientific Opinion on acrylamide in food. The opinion was fairly balanced, although it did conclude, based on animal studies, that acrylamide in food potentially increases the risk of developing cancer for consumers in all age groups and hence is a public health concern. The opinion also stated that “results from human studies provide limited and inconsistent evidence of increased risk of developing cancer (of the kidney, endometrium and ovaries) in association with dietary exposure to acrylamide”.

In the light of the EFSA opinion, the EU Commission published in July 2016 a draft Recommendation on the application of codes of good practice to reduce the presence of acrylamide in food. This is subject to targeted stakeholder consultation during the summer of 2016. The proposal builds on the FoodDrinkEurope approach of mandatory codes of practice as an alternative to maximum levels.

FDF Acrylamide Mitigation Webinars

To promote the latest revision of the Toolbox, FDF has produced a series of webinars looking at the latest developments relating to acrylamide, and at the tools available for manufacturers to manage this potential contaminant. These webinars have been made publicly available to inform stakeholders and particularly SMEs about relevant management strategies.

View the FDF Acrylamide Webinars

Last reviewed: 03 Aug 2016