Acrylamide levels in selected Canadian foods

Analytical methods were developed by Health Canada's food laboratories to measure acrylamide in foods, based on the latest advances in analytical chemistry, specifically liquid chromatography/ tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS). Method validation has been extensive, with Health Canada's Food Research Division laboratories' participation in international proficiency testing programs to ensure the quality of data measuring the levels of acrylamide in food commodities, prior to publication of these data and their use in exposure assessment.

Since 2002, Health Canada has conducted limited food surveys to determine levels of acrylamide in certain food commodities.  The results of these surveys have been published in peer-reviewed scientific journalsFootnote 1 and were used to conduct a preliminary assessment of Canadian dietary exposure to acrylamide.

In addition, more targeted surveys were directed at specific foods found to have higher levels of acrylamide. Specifically, potato chips and cereals were monitored over time (through recurrent sampling) to investigate possible trends in acrylamide content. Table 1 presents the preliminary findings of this study.

The investigation of trends over time of concentration of acrylamide in varieties of cereals and potato chips suggests that levels of acrylamide in these products fluctuate. These variations can be attributed to various factors, including sampling design, changes in the concentration of precursors of acrylamide - notably sugars and asparagine - in starting (raw) materials and to possible changes in process conditions. It was not concluded however that there is a particular trend in concentrations of acrylamide found in these food commodities over the targeted period of time.

Following the initial research into the levels of acrylamide in selected Canadian foods, other food commodities were collected for analysis of acrylamide, as part of Health Canada's on-going Total Diet Study and Child Health survey activities. Analytical results were generated on sample subsets representing foods that are specific to certain groups of the general population such as children.

Table 2 presents some results generated on a preliminary sampling of baby foods.  The majority of samples surveyed showed very low levels of acrylamide, with several products featuring results lower than 10 parts per billion. Further data are being generated on breakfast cereals and coffee substitute.

Table 2. Results of a survey of Baby Food Products for the presence of acrylamide.
Type Acrylamide ppbTable 1 footnote 1 Table 1 footnote 2

Table 1 footnotes

Table 1 footnote 1

ppb (part per billion) is equal to 0.0000001 percent.

Return to table 1 footnote 1 referrer

Table 1 footnote 2

sign < indicates that no acrylamide was detected above 10 ppb.

Return to table 1 footnote 2 referrer

Rice Cereal Yogurt Apples Bananas <
Rice Cereal Yogurt Fruits <
Wheat & Rice Cereals Milk, Fruits 13
Wheat & Yogurt & Raspberry <
Wheat & Yogurt & Raspberry <
Wheat & Fruit <
Mixed Cereal With Fruit <
Mixed Cereal With Fruit <
Oatmeal Cereal <
Oatmeal Cereal <
Rice Cereal <
Rice Cereal <
Crackers 60
Crackers 30
Oat Cereal 57
Oat Cereal 23
Mixed Cereal with Fruit 32
Mixed Cereal with Fruit 58
Apple Cinnamon Cereal 27
Apple Cinnamon Cereal 16
Blueberry Cereal 27
Blueberry Cereal 32
Rice Cereal Infant Formula <
Oatmeal Cereal 18
Oatmeal Cereal 20
Oatmeal Cereal 27
Oatmeal Cereal with Infant Formula <
Mixed Berry Cereal 37
Mixed Berry Cereal 40
Biscuits 120
Wheat & Fruit <
Rice & Banana 15
Rice & Banana 15
Rice Cereal <
Barley Cereal 23
Oatmeal Cereal <

Investigation of pathways of formation of acrylamide was initiated in Health Canada's laboratories, to explain why some foods more than others may lead to the "natural occurrence" of higher levels of acrylamide in baked or fried foods and in order to allow the development of strategies to lower dietary exposure to acrylamide in the event that an unacceptable health risk is identified. It was clearly proven that acrylamide is not present in any ingredient of these food commodities prior to cooking and it is not a contaminant inadvertently added at any stage of food preparation.

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