Acrylamide Risk Assessment and Management
A distinguishing factor that is used when deciding on how to develop a group is to predict the exposure that each group may encounter. Each similar exposure group (SEG) may then be evaluated as a whole. In order to develop SEGs some knowledge of exposure is needed. When determining exposure groups for workers in an acrylamide manufacturing plant it would be helpful to understand the airborne level of acrylamide aerosols. When determining the exposure groups for food product consumers it would be useful to know the amount of acrylamide in the foods.
Another essential tool for establishing risk assessment is to understand how much acrylamide is needed to cause damage. By understanding animal models and extrapolating health affects data determined through animal models, risk assessment may be determined in humans.
The United States Environmental Protection Agency has composed a report addressing the risks involved with acrylamide exposure. Based on a research review conducted by the EPA, risk levels for acquiring cancer through ingestion (Figure 1) and inhalation (Figure 2) of acrylamide have been determined (19).
The Norwegian Food Control Authority produced a similar risk assessment table as prepared by the EPA. The NFCA based the risk on a lifetime exposure with varying levels of average exposure (Figure 3) . Based on this data, the NFCA determined a lifetime cancer risk from exposure to 1ug acrylamide/kg bw/day, as 1.3x10-3 . The NFCA found that acrylamide is responsible for 1% of all food related cancer cases in Norway. (19)
For males and females a lifetime cancer risk of .2x10-3 (2 per 10,000) was estimated. For the 2.5%tile with high consumption rates of coffee .4X10-3 (4 per 10,000) for males and .5x10-3for females. The total risk for Norwegians is .7x10-3 (7 per 10,000). (21).
Another study conducted by the Norwegian Food Control Authority looked at the risk of cancer in children related to acrylamide exposure through baby food. The amount of acrylamide intake from baby food was determined to be .3ug/kg/day. This level was determined to be lower than intake from other foods and coffeee. (22)
Based on rat studies, there is no reason to suspect that younger children are more susceptible to acrylamide induced cancers as compared to adults. It was therefore determined that acrylamide in cereal-based baby foods are of little consequence when estimating cancer risk. This is due, in part, to the fact that the time of exposure is short, (1-2) years, as compared to a life time exposure. Because intake of baby food is of short duration it is not expected to have significant contribution as compared to a lifetime of ingestion of normal acrylamide containing foods. (22)
One method may be to remove or reduce the risk causing agent. The European Union is currently conducting extensive research on methods to reduce the levels of acrylamide in foods. Many of the projects are still ongoing. One experiment that has been completed has found that the addition of flavonoid spices reduced the amount of acrylamide in foods. (23)
Another method of risk management is through education. By educating consumers and workers that are exposed to acrylamide, people may be able to avoid contact with the chemical. Californias Proposition 65 is the safe drinking water and toxic enforcement act created in 1986 by the state government. The proposition requires the state to issue a list of chemicals that cause cancer or reproductive toxicity. California proposes to identify certain foods that are likely to contain acrylamide. These foods would be tested for acrylamide on a routine basis. Those foods that contain acrylamide levels above the no significant risk level (NSRL) of 0.2 micrograms/day will be communicated to the public. The method for communicating with the public is under discussion but the use of warning labels has been discussed. (24)
The other concern of the CFSAN is that people may not adequately cook their foods in an attempt to eliminate the production of acrylamide through the cooking process. The committee wants to be certain that people recognize that undercooking food can be even more immediately dangerous to health due to the increased risk of food borne pathogens. Lowering the frying temperature may not only increase the risk of food borne pathogens but increase the fat content in certain foods as well. (26)
The CFSAN feels that it is extremely important that the true risk be understood before a risk management program can be implemented. Currently the CFSAN wants consumers to understand that they should eat a balanced diet, choosing a variety of foods that are low in fat, and rich in high-fiber grains, fruits and vegetables. The CFSAN will continue to update the consumer message as new information is made available. (26)