During the Maillard reaction in foods, many reducing compounds are formed. While some of these cause taste, aroma and color changes, some of them show toxic and carcinogenic properties. Compounds such as acrylamide and hydrocymethyl furfural (HMF) can be given as examples of compounds formed because of Maillard reactions. In this article, I would like to talk about how acrylamide is formed in foods.

How is acrylamide formed in food?

There are two different forms of acrylamide: monomer and polymer. Of these, only monomers show toxic properties. It is an odorless, water-soluble, white solid crystalline substance that is not naturally found in foods but is formed by exposure to high heat processes such as frying and baking applied to foods. It is formed because of cooking foods containing carbohydrates and proteins at temperatures of 120°C and above.

Fruits and vegetables do not carry the risk of acrylamide when consumed raw or boiled. For example, Potatoes do not carry any risk in terms of acrylamide when boiled and consumed, but when fried potatoes are consumed, they carry a very high risk. So, which other foods are at high risk of occurrence? It occurs at a high rate in foods exposed to high temperatures such as potato chips, french fries, biscuits, crackers, bread, corn chips, coffee powder, cereals.

The temperature and time applied to the food, the pH value of the environment and the amount of water, the type of raw material and the production method are effective on the formation of acrylamide. In addition, factors such as the amount of asparagine, which plays a role in the formation of color and aroma in foods because of Maillard reaction by interacting with sugars, and the amount of reducing sugar are also effective.

What can we do to reduce acrylamide formation?

  • We can add chemicals such as cations, acids, enzymes and amino acids to foods. Thus, the acrylamide level decreases.
  • We should keep the pH value low.
  • We need to lower the cooking temperature.
  • It is necessary to shorten the cooking time.