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New acrylamide legislation to affect hospitality firms in April 2018

29 November 2017 by
New acrylamide legislation to affect hospitality firms in April 2018

Food businesses in the UK will need to put in place practical steps to manage acrylamide within their food safety management systems, as new European Union (EU) legislation comes into force in April 2018.

Despite the UK's expected departure from the EU in 2019, the legislation will still apply to UK businesses when it is introduced.

Acrylamide is a chemical substance formed by a reaction between amino acids and sugars.

It usually occurs when foods with a high starch content such as potatoes, root vegetables and bread, are cooked at high temperatures when fried, roasted or baked.

As a carcinogen, acrylamide has the potential to cause cancer in humans.

The Food Standards Agency and Food Standards Scotland said they were now working with the British Hospitality Association (BHA), the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) and other organisations to develop simple guidance to help catering and foodservice businesses comply.

The guidelines are expected to be available in the new year.

Dr Lisa Ackerley, food safety adviser at the British Hospitality Association, said: "The BHA has been supporting businesses to continue to proactively and voluntarily put simple measures in place to minimise the amount of acrylamide in food, and we are now leading the development of an industry guide, together with FSA and other stakeholders. The guide will be available free of charge from early next year, in preparation for the April implementation date. FSA are also developing guidance for enforcement officers on these regulations, and the BHA are working closely with FSA to ensure guidance is reasonable and in line with that issued to industry. The BHA is working with Cornwall Council on the guidance so that BHA members can have the assurance of a Primary Authority."

Kate Nicholls, chief executive of the ALMR, said: "We are in dialogue with the FSA and other trade body partners to ensure that sector guidance is clear, realistic and imposes the minimum burden on eating and drinking out venues while safeguarding the identified health risks.

"The report accompanying today's announcement illustrates how the food industry, including eating out businesses across the UK, has made great strides in improving food safety for consumers. Our members take this issue very seriously and the report states that the industry has already developed best practice in this area that helps safeguard consumers.

"The report also acknowledges that the inconsistency of how food is cooked in the home presents a greater risk and that is where the FSA should focus its efforts. The majority of food is prepared and eaten in the home by untrained consumers, rather than by skilled and diligent chefs working in pubs, restaurants and other eating out venues."

The FSA has been undertaking surveillance on acrylamide levels in food products since 2007. The latest surveillance report can be found here.

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