Chapter 7. Risk Assessment of Acrylamide

  1. Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG)
  1. Prof. Dr. Erik Dybing

Published Online: 19 JUN 2007

DOI: 10.1002/9783527611492.ch7

Thermal Processing of Food: Potential Health Benefits and Risks

Thermal Processing of Food: Potential Health Benefits and Risks

How to Cite

Dybing, E. (2007) Risk Assessment of Acrylamide, in Thermal Processing of Food: Potential Health Benefits and Risks (ed Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG)), Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim, Germany. doi: 10.1002/9783527611492.ch7

Author Information

  1. Division of Environmental Medicine, Norwegian Institute of Public Health, PO Box 4404 Nydalen, NO-0403 Oslo, Norway

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 19 JUN 2007
  2. Published Print: 23 FEB 2007

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9783527319091

Online ISBN: 9783527611492



  • thermal processing of food;
  • health benefits;
  • risk assessment of acrylamide;
  • acrylamide detected in certain fried;
  • detected in baked;
  • detected in deep-fried foods;
  • detected in coffee;
  • acrylamide oxidised in the body;
  • reactive glycidamide;
  • glycidamide is mutagenic;
  • carcinogenic;
  • causing tumours;
  • neurotoxicant;
  • genotoxic mechanism via glycidamide


Acrylamide has been detected in certain fried, baked and deep-fried foods, as well as in coffee. The major determinants of acrylamide formation during heat treatment of food are the presence of asparagine and reducing sugars or reactive carbonyls. Reported mean acrylamide intakes in Europe and USA are between 0.28 and 0.71 µg/kg bodyweight/day in adults and about 1.5-fold higher or more among children and adolescents. Maximal intakes in Norwegian 13 year olds have been estimated to 8.0 µg/kg bodyweight/day. Acrylamide is oxidised in the body to the reactive glycidamide, which is mutagenic. Acrylamide is carcinogenic to rats and mice, causing tumours at multiple organ sites in both species when given in drinking water or by skin application. Acrylamide administered in drinking water to rats, consistently induced peritesticular mesotheliomas, thyroid follicular cell tumours and mammary gland tumours. An increase in primary brain tumours was also evident when all such tumours were included in data analysis. Acrylamide is also a neurotoxicant with a NOAEL for induction of morphological changes in nerves of rats as detected by electron microscopy of 0.2 mg/kg bodyweight/day. It also induces reproductive and developmental effects with a NOAEL of 2 mg/kg bodyweight/day. Acrylamide presumably causes cancer in laboratory animals through a genotoxic mechanism via glycidamide. Glycidamide-derived DNA adducts have been found in all tissues of mice and rats examined after i.p. administration of acrylamide, including in the testis and mammary gland. There has been no evidence of increases in cancer in studies of occupational populations exposed to acrylamide. There is conflicting epidemiological evidence with most studies showing no association between acrylamide food exposure and increased cancer. One study has reported an increased risk in breast cancer related to earlier consumption of potato chips (French fries) at preschool age. Most of the existing epidemiological information is limited by insufficient power to detect modest increases in tumour types such as those observed in the rodent studies. Given the results of the carcinogenicity and mutagenicity studies in animals, it is prudent to regard acrylamide as a probable human carcinogen acting through a genotoxic mechanism. Using the default linear extrapolation methods LED10 and T25, the lifetime cancer hazard after lifelong exposure to 1 µg acrylamide/kg body weight/day, has been calculated to be, on average, 1.3×10−3. JECFA has derived a lowest BMDL of 0.30 mg/kg bodyweight/day for total mammary tumours in rats. By comparing this value to their estimate of an average acrylamide intake of 1 µg/kg bodyweight/day, a margin of exposure (MOE) of 300 has been calculated. For intakes in high consumers (4 µg/kg bodyweight/day), JECFA reported a MOE of 75.