Acrylamide had long been used in the manufacture of plastics, glues, paper and cosmetics, and in the construction of dams and tunnels. When it was found in food, very little was known about how it was formed, or its impact on our health, although it had already been found to cause cancer in animals, and the International Agency for Research on Cancer had classified it as ‘probably carcinogenic in humans’.
The World Health Organization (WHO) and the Food and Agriculture Organisation quickly set up an international network of researchers studying acrylamide in food, and the HEATOX (‘Heat-Generated Food Toxicants, Identification, Characterisation and Risk Minimisation’) project represents a key EU contribution to this effort. HEATOX features in the EU’s acrylamide information database, which in turn feeds into the WHO’s acrylamide infonet.
Thanks to HEATOX, we now have a much better understanding of how acrylamide is formed, its effect on our health, and importantly, how different methods of preparing and cooking food affect the levels of acrylamide in the final product.
The project brought together 24 partners from 11 EU Member States as well as Norway, Switzerland, Turkey and Chile.READ MORE