Acrylamide in Foods Acrylamide is a harmful substance.  It is formed when starchy substances are heated to high temperature around 1200C & with low moisture, through processes such as frying, roasting, baking. This is because of the reaction between sugars and amino acids present in the foods. In particular,  an amino-acid called asparagine is primarily responsible for the formation of Acrylamide in the cooking process. Acrylamide forms as part of a chemical reaction, known as the ‘Maillard reaction’.  Acrylamine contributes to the aroma, taste and color of cooked starch based foods.   Boiling and steaming do not generally  form acrylamide. Acrylamide is found in products such as potato crisps, French fries, bread, biscuits and coffee. Acrylamide is also present in cigarette smoke. Concerns about Acrylamide The National Toxicology Program’s   Report of USA, on Carcinogens considers acrylamide to be reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen, based on studies in laboratory animals. In the body, acrylamide is converted to a compound called glycidamide, which may cause  mutations in DNA and can damage  DNA.   The following points are worth mention:  •	The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classifies acrylamide as a “probable human carcinogen.” •	The US National Toxicology Program (NTP) has classified acrylamide as “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen.”   •	The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) classifies acrylamide as “likely to be carcinogenic to humans.” Guidelines for Chefs, Cooks, and others involved in cooking To minimize the  Acrylamide content in the foods, the following points are suggested •	Basically, Acrylamide is  found in plant-based foods and starch concentrate foods cooked with high heat  using  frying, roasting and baking with low moisture.  It is advised to minimize high temperature frying or roasting. Presence of moisture can minimize formation of Acrylamide. •	Avoid frying  foods such as chips, bread, french fires etc.,  until they are dark brown.  •	Heat your foods at the proper temperature and avoid  overcooking them. •	It is advisable to to roast or fry along with the  skin,  in the case of starchy vegetables like potatoes, yams, corn etc and subsequent peeling can be done. •	Avoid  roasting  of foods like pappads, potato chips and other crispy foods under direct flame. •	Prefer boiling, cooking in the water medium. Boiling or steaming starch foods,  makes acrylamide formation less likely.  •	This means that avoiding frying or otherwise burning or charring foods is an effective way to cut down the formation of Acrylamide.
Acrylamide forms “natural.” But harmful !!!!
According to,  120°C seems to be the magic temperature, above which more acrylamide forms. On the contrary, foods heated to below this temperature  do not seem to form the chemical. Example case: French Fries Safe color Acrylamide formed color Photo credit: FDA
Health Scan-December 2019