Food safety

Frequently asked questions - acrylamide in food

Questioning the evidence

11. The evidence seems incomplete. Are you certain that I will run an increased risk of getting cancer from eating some foods?

It is true that the current evidence is incomplete. Further information needs to be obtained to better understand the formation of acrylamide in food, the possible health impact that this might have, and the measures that might be successful in reducing the levels in food.

It cannot now be categorically stated what fraction of the cancers, which we know are caused by food in general, can be attributed to acrylamide in food.

12. Is acrylamide produced naturally in the body? Could this have invalidated the results?

There is no evidence that acrylamide is produced in the human body and certainly not at the levels that have been measured. Various experiments have all but ruled out this hypothesis.

13. How credible are all the results? The number of food types tested was small and the samples of food tested varied widely in their acrylamide content.

The Swedish announcement was the first report of the presence of elevated levels of acrylamide in food. However acrylamide has now also been found in food samples from the Netherlands, Norway, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States. More foods need to be tested, and the mechanism of formation of acrylamide in food needs to be better understood, so that the levels in particular food types can be predicted.

14. Can we trust what the food industry tells us about how they prepare their processed foods?

The food industry recognizes the implications of consumers perceiving their products as unsafe, as well as their liability in selling a product that is potentially harmful to the consumer. Oversight by governments will provide some level of assurance for consumers on the safety of food products on the market and also verifies (or not) claims by the food industry about how they prepare their processed products.