What biscuit and biscuit manufacturers need to know

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the discovery of acrylamide in common foods such as biscuits, cookies, potato chips, coffee and a number of other cereal and potato-based products cooked at high temperatures (>120°C) in low humidity conditions.

Acrylamide is a natural component of the browning effect – also known as the Maillard reaction – between amino acids and reducing sugars when heated. It is also considered a carcinogen and in 2018 EU legislation brought the BML for biscuits and biscuits below 350 parts per billion (ppb).

Photo: GettyImages/Drypsiak

However, recent tests have shown that many samples have exceeded this limit.

“Current legislation states that food manufacturers must apply practical steps in their production in accordance with the ALARA principle, which aims to be ‘as low as reasonably achievable’.”​ said Kees Veeke, Baking Enzymes Technical Service Manager at DSM.

Although Veeke believes most food manufacturers are aware of the levels of acrylamide in their products, many still struggle to meet reference levels.

“This is due to variations in recipes and ingredients that can cause acrylamide to vary from 50 parts per billion to 7,000 parts per billion. Biscuits and cookies have different levels of acrylamide, and it can be very difficult for manufacturers to monitor this [of multiple lines].”

It comes down to the type of flour used – “The level of asparagine between white flour and wholemeal flour can vary depending on the effect of wholemeal flour, and this automatically leads to higher levels of acrylamide as well” – to different types of sugar concentration – “Fructose is much more reactive compared to glucose, for example, and therefore contributes significantly to the production of acrylamide. What biscuit and biscuit manufacturers need to know

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