What’s that?| Acrylamide

With recent articles circulating on this compound in our daily food has been causing some confusion and panic among online readers (at least for me). So i decided to read up more and summarize it in a nutshell on what is this all about. Healthy choices gives us healthier life so lesser problems to worry about!

What is Acrylamide?

Acrylamide (AA)  is a chemical compound with a formula of C3H5NO which is primarily used as a building block to make polyacrylamide and acrylamide copolymers. Where these are commonly used for industrial applications such as production of papers, dyes and plastics. In addition its also used in treatment of drink water and waste water including sewage ! AA can also be found in biscuits, potato crisps, French fries, breads, coffee and cigarette smoke! [1]

How does it affect me?

Scientific evidence from animal studies states that acrylamide and its metabolite glycidamide are genotoxic and carcinogenic. In simple terms it damages our DNA and causes cancer.  Researchers from Europe and United States have found traces of acrylamide when starchy-food is heated up to more than 120 °C. [2] However evidence from human studies is at the moment limited and inconclusive.

Though more extensive research should be done for human anatomy we can still look at the severity of its impact on animals. For instance after consumption, acrylamide is absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract and dispersed to all other organs and will be further rigorously metabolized. This Glycidamide (GA) is one of the main resultant metabolites and likely reason for tumor growth and gene mutation seen in animals. Although rodents absorption rate is different to humans, the consequences are real.

Some of the types of adverse effects found in animal studies (rats,mice, monkeys, cats and dogs) : [3]

  • AA is carcinogenic in multiple tissues in both male and female mice and rats.
  • Rodents were seen to have reduced sperm count
  • loss of body weight
  • effects of nervous system – hind leg paralysis
  • female mice ovarian cysts.

This list is not exhaustive and more information can be found in EFSA journal – Scientific Opinion on acrylamide in food.  [4]

What can I do to protect myself and my loved ones?

The Millard reaction is the chemical process that causes Acrylamide formation in starchy food products  during high temperature cooking.


Screenshot 2015-11-18 10.25.00
Fig 1: Example of starchy food conversion to Acrylamide 

There is no definitive answer to this yet. But it has been found the longer the food is cooked at higher than 120 °C the higher the production of Acrylamide. The following were suggested by cancer.gov ,

  • We can reduce our consumption of starchy food that is cooked at such high temperatures.
  • Decrease the cooking duration
  • Blanching potatoes before frying
  • Post drying – Using hot air to cool down after frying

Meanwhile we can look forward to national decision makers to advise the public on this matter once more conclusive research data as been made. Better to be safe than sorry folks!


[1] http://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/diet/acrylamide-fact-sheet#q1

[2] http://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/press/news/150604

[3] http://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/efsajournal/pub/4104

[4] http://www.efsa.europa.eu/sites/default/files/scientific_output/files/main_documents/4104.pdf

Disclaimer : The information on this site is provided as an information resource only, and is not to be used or relied on for any diagnostic or treatment purposes. This should not be used as a substitute for professional diagnosis and treatment.


36 thoughts on “What’s that?| Acrylamide

  1. The V-Pub says:

    Is this the same chemical that was used in Subway breads for a while? I had read that they used the same chemical in their breads as were used in rubber mats.

  2. BunKaryudo says:

    Oh, this was an interesting but kind of scary post. Food advice seems to change so fast these days I can’t keep up. Are raw carrots still good for me? They used to be, but I’m not sure any more.

    1. Jessie says:

      It’s scary to think with advanced technology they are limiting more of our favourite food. I agree with you ! It’s so hard to keep track !! Raw carrots ? I have no idea mate 😯

  3. gerard oosterman says:

    I drink water and eat food that hardly needs cooking. Bok Choy, fresh sardines and sometimes tuna or salmon. No fries or KFC stuff. No sugary drinks a couple of sugar hits in my coffee is all that I compromise in.

  4. Nena says:

    Great info! It is really scary what we are ingesting now a days. It is better to make our own food as much as possible and follow precautions on food safety:/

  5. danielsion says:

    Which is why I say put up borders everything needs a border( and shoot all invaders). I kinda enjoyed that McDonald’s French fry after it set. It strengthened the concrete.
    It would not be proper for me to detail what these foods are doing to the digestive and urinary tract. I am no Stephen King. Stop eating these foods or look for an early death heralded by a colostomy bag.

  6. terrepruitt says:

    There is this if you are interested:
    “In 2010, the EPA established an RfD (Reference Dose) for oral intake of acrylamide. Reference doses are amounts of daily exposure over a lifetime that can be predicted to produce no noticeable health effects. In other words, as a general rule, adverse health affects are not expected if daily intake of a substance remains below the reference dose level. The reference dose established for acrylamide by the EPA in 2010 was 0.002 milligrams of acrylamide per kilogram of body weight per day. For a person weighing 150 pounds, this RfD for acrylamide means a daily dietary exposure limit of about 140 micrograms. Since the EPA has estimated that an adult weighing 150 pounds averages about 27 micrograms of daily acrylamide intake from his or her diet, this RfD guideline suggests that on average, U.S. adults are getting about 19% of their maximum allowable exposure to acrylamide from dietary intake.” http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=george&dbid=260

    Or the document on the study itself: https://cfpub.epa.gov/ncea/iris/iris_documents/documents/subst/0286_summary.pdf

    I personally don’t think I need to say good-bye to fries. I love fries. But I don’t eat them everyday. I eat them every once in awhile . . . at MOST once a month. But . . . since pretty much everything in our food supply has been shown to cause some sort of ill health affect I figure something is going to “get me” one of these days.

    Thanks for the science lesson! Cheers!

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