A Norwegian company has developed a new method that claims to be 90% effective in reducing acrylamide formation during food production. The method, which uses specially developed food grade lactic acid bacteria, was developed by Norwegian research company Zeracryl AS, and may reduce the formation of acrylamide during industrial production of potatoes and coffee.
“Acrylamide is formed as a reaction between the amino acid asparagine and simple sugars... Put simply, the lactic acid bacteria remove these compounds and inhibit the formation of acrylamide,” explained Dr Hans Blom, CSO of Zeracryl AS. Acrylamide is a suspected carcinogen that is formed by a heat induced reaction between sugar and the amino acid asparagine. The process known as the Maillard reaction - is responsible for the brown colour and tasty flavour of baked, fried and toasted food. In 2002 Swedish researchers found the carcinogenic compound was present at high levels in many foods. The discovery grabbed international headlines, alarming consumers and food safety authorities globally.
Since then acrylamide has been the focus of much research, and had been found in many foods, including, bread, crackers, sweet biscuits, deep-fried products and coffee. However, the main focus of research has been into the compound’s effects on humans, and into improved production methods to reduce or remove acrylamide from foods.
Dr Blom and his team found a method to limit the formation of acrylamide during the production of potato products and coffee using a “specially formulated culture of food-grade lactic acid bacteria.” The patented method is based on lowering the levels of reducing sugars (like glucose) present on the surface of food products to reduce acrylamide formation when the products are fried or heated. In ongoing experiments, the team claim to have shown that 10 to 15 minutes’ immersion in their lactic acid bacteria culture before cooking can reduce the acrilamide formation.