- Kerry's Acryleast, which reduces acrylamide, is outperforming lab-based trials in food manufacturing line tests, Mike Woulfe, vice president of business development for enzymes, told Food Navigator.
- Acryleast reduces the naturally occurring carcinogen in products by up to 93% with no impact on taste or texture, and has been on the market since January. It was developed in partnership with Renaissance BioScience.
- The ingredient is considered a clean label processing aid and can be listed as “yeast” on ingredient labels. Adding the compound to the manufacturing process does not require modifying production processes, according to the company.
Acrylamide can naturally form in certain foods when they are cooked or fried at high temperatures. It can be found in potatoes, coffee and CPG items such as crackers, bread, cookies and breakfast cereals.
Not all products are equally affected by the cooking process when it comes to the prevalence of this carcinogen. One cup of coffee tested by the Clean Label Project had an average of 1.77 micrograms of acrylamide per serving, while french fries from a top U.S. fast-food outlet had 75.65 micrograms. Still, The U.S. Food and Drug Administration says "very high doses" have caused cancer in animals and experts such as the American Cancer Society advise people to keep their exposure to acrylamide as low as possible.
With such a widespread appearance in CPG products, it is no surprise that consumers familiar with the substance are wary of consuming it. Governments too have found the pervasiveness of acrylamide in CPG products sufficiently concerning as to pass legislation limiting it.
The European Union passed regulations on acrylamide last year that require food manufacturers to show they've taken steps to reduce levels in their products to below certain benchmarks and "as low as reasonably achievable." In California, the carcinogen has been a point of concern for the last 30 years. Since voters there approved Proposition 65 in 1986, there has been a requirement to display warning labels on food and beverage packaging or in retail food establishments indicating acrylamide-containing items are "potentially harmful."
Although acrylamide is linked to ill health effects, it is still a naturally occurring compound and not something that manufacturers can easily remove from their processes. To assist in eradicating the substance from packaged foods, ingredient companies worldwide have been working to come up with a solution.
Acryleast is one of those fixes. Other acrylamide-reduction applications have debuted in the recent past, including INOLENS and SyneROX HT, developed by Frutarom, which is now owned by International Flavors & Fragrances. Dutch ingredients company DSM has also introduced an enzymatic solution called PreventASe XR, which can reduce acrylamide levels by up to 95%. This product appeared on the market several months before Acryleast. Similar to Kerry’s acrylamide-reducing additive, DSM claims its enzyme solution doesn't affect the taste, appearance or texture of the products in which it's used.
But Acryleast claims the title of the only “fully non-GMO acrylamide reducing solution available on the market,” reports Food Navigator.
The advantage of lab-developed additives like Acryleast is that manufacturers will not need to change their formulations to avoid the production of harmful carcinogens. Instead, Acryleast can be added to a recipe where it will prevent the development of the substance.
Though there is no blanket legislation that enforces limitations on acrylamide levels, the U.S. government has mandated the reduction of the chemical in some cases. In 2008, some big food companies — PepsiCo's Frito-Lay, Heinz, Kettle Foods and Lance — said they would limit acrylamide levels in potato chips and french fries as part of a legal settlement with the California attorney general.
But if there is no U.S. government mandate for acrylamide reduction, widespread adoption of an ingredient similar to Acryleast will depend largely on its cost.
Still, for manufacturers looking to tout clean labels and free-from designations, integrating an ingredient such as Acryleast will be beneficial. With manufacturing tests for Acryleast ongoing, it remains to be seen how many products will eventually adopt this preventative measure.