Acrylamide in foods: No grounds to sound the all clear after new Swedish study

The Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) sees the epidemiological study just published in the British Journal of Cancer from the Swedish Karolinska Institute as a useful component when assessing the potential health risk to consumers from foods containing acrylamide.  BfR unreservedly upholds its previous risk assessment even after the submission of the study. According to this study, acrylamide poses a serious health risk to humans. The exposure of the consumer must, therefore, be reduced as quickly and as far as possible.

Acrylamide was classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) as "probably carcinogenic for man". In the European Union acrylamide is classified in Category 2 - carcinogenic substances. This substance triggers cancer in animal experiments and damages the genotype.  Classification in category 2 means that acrylamide should also be considered as carcinogenic for man. 

Even before the new Swedish study, studies in humans were available for acrylamide in which no increased cancer rate had been found. These studies, like the new Swedish study, do not provide any grounds for the all clear. The fact that no carcinogenic effect was identified in any of the studies is not evidence that there is no such effect. In order to clarify the extent to which acrylamide is involved in the cancer, extremely large numbers of persons and data are required on the total acrylamide uptake of the persons examined. None of the studies has fulfilled this requirement up to now.

New scientific findings are continuously assessed by the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment. If they should lead to a deviating assessment of the health risk for consumers from acrylamide, then BfR will immediately inform the general public.


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