The European Food Safety Authority’s (EFSA’s) Panel on Contaminants in the Food Chain (CONTAM) has released its final scientific opinion on acrylamide, concluding that dietary exposure to the substance “potentially increases the risk of developing cancer for consumers in all age groups.” Naturally formed in starchy food products during hightemperature cooking, acrylamide is digested and distributed throughout the body, where one of its metabolites is said to cause “the gene mutations and tumors seen in animal studies.”

“Evidence from animal studies shows that acrylamide and its metabolite glycidamide are genotoxic and carcinogenic: they damage DNA and cause cancer,” states the CONTAM Panel, which reviewed 43,419 analytical results from food commodities as well as the latest scientific literature. “Evidence from human studies that dietary exposure to acrylamide causes cancer is currently limited and inconclusive.”

In particular, the agency singles out fried potato products, coffee, biscuits, crackers, crisp bread, and soft bread as the main contributors to acrylamide exposure, warning that children are “the most exposed age group on a body weight basis.” It also notes that ingredient and homecooking choices can affect dietary exposure levels in consumers. The scientific opinion will inform the policymakers responsible for reducing exposure to this substance in food. See EFSA Press Release, June 4, 2015.