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Genetic and Agronomic Approaches to Reducing Acrylamide Formation in Foods Derived From Potato and Cereal
Project Code: C03042
Acrylamide is a chemical formed when starch-rich foods are fried, baked or toasted at high temperatures (i.e greater than 120 °C). It has been found in a wide range of potato and cereal based foods such as potato crisps, French fries, bread, crisp breads and breakfast cereals. Acrylamide is formed via a chemical reaction (Maillard Reaction) between naturally occurring free asparagines (an amino acid) and reducing sugars during high temperature cooking. The Maillard reaction is also responsible for the characteristic colour and flavour of roast, baked and fried foods and any general inhibition of the Maillard reaction to lower acrylamide levels is likely to affect colour and flavour quality. Experts advise that acrylamide has the potential to increase the risk of cancer and therefore it is considered that dietary exposure to acrylamide should be reduced to as low as reasonably practicable. Effort is therefore being put into reduction strategies for acrylamide in food, focusing especially on processing parameters such as cooking times and temperatures and this approach is nearing exhaustion. The aim of this study was therefore to look at an alternative approach to reducing acrylamide in potato and cereal products. The main objectives were:
• to show that reduced asparagine and sugar levels in tubers and grain would lead to reduced acrylamide formation during processing and to determine whether reducing acrylamide would compromise flavour and colour.
• to identify markers and strategies for plant breeders, biotechnologists and producers to help achieve reduction of acrylamide levels in foods.
• to determine whether farmers should be advised to apply sulphur-containing fertilizer to potato and cereal crops to reduce the accumulation of free asparagine.
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