Following the introduction of legislation on acrylamide exposure earlier this week, here's some top tips to help make sure you comply.
So what is acrylamide?
Acrylamide is not deliberately added to foods, it is a natural by-product of the cooking process, and has always been present in our food.
Acrylamide is a chemical substance formed by a reaction between amino acids and sugars. It typically occurs when foods with high starch content such as potatoes, root vegetables and bread, are cooked at high temperatures (over 120°C) in a process of frying, roasting or baking.
Check out the video from the Food Standards Agency below:
Okay, so how does this impact pubs?
The legislation requires food businesses, including pubs, to take appropriate action to reduce levels of acrylamide. This is through using the concept of "As Low As Reasonably Achievable" (ALARA). You do not need to test foods, but if you follow the official guidance, that should be fine.
If you want some basic tips to ensure compliance, these will assist:
The "golden" rule:
This is where you cook food, especially chips and potatoes, to light colours and avoid them becoming dark or especially burnt. This is when acrylamide is a biggest risk.
Follow the manufacturers' instructions
When cooking, make sure that the instructions by the manufacturer are adhered to. They will have put these together specifically to achieve ALARA, and should you stick to them, then the risk of acrylamide will be minimised.
Fry at lower temperatures
Decrease the cooking time when possible
Blanch potatoes before frying them
Blanching potatoes removes around half of the sugar content, resulting in lower levels of acrylamide.
Avoid overheating oils and fats
Frequently change oils and fats
Don't store potatoes in the fridge
Storing raw potatoes in the fridge may lead to the formation of more free sugars in the potatoes (a process sometimes referred to as 'cold sweetening') and can increase overall acrylamide levels.
Avoid bruised potatoes