Sciensano & Acrylamide

Last updated on 12-12-2018 by Jill Alexandre

Acrylamide is a probably carcinogenic chemical found in products like chips, French fries and cigarette smoke.

What does Sciensano do?

Sciensano monitors the consumption of fried foods, analyses the presence of acrylamide in food and studies the consequences of exposure to acrylamide in the population.

Lifestyle and chronic diseases

The Sciensano’s “Lifestyle and chronic diseases” service conducts a Food Consumption Survey that examines in detail the eating habits of the Belgian population.

In the “Food Safety“ report of this survey, consumer behaviour and, among other things, the preparation of fried foods is analysed.

The results of the Survey (2014) showed that the preparation of fried food remains relatively high in Belgium: in fact, more than one quarter of the population frequently (once a week or more) make fries at home:

  • 15% of the Belgian population claim to cook fries until they are golden yellow
  • 49% claim to prepare fries until they are golden brown
  • 33% until they have a strong golden colour
  • 2% until their colour is too dark.

Health and environment

The Sciensano’s “Risk and health impact assessment” service, in collaboration with the University of Liège, is the reference national laboratory in Belgium for environmental contaminants and contaminants linked to processing.

Acrylamide is one of the contaminants linked to the processing being monitored in food by the FASFC.

Consumer safety

The Sciensano’s “Organic contaminants and additives” service works with the University of Hasselt to determine the consequences of exposure to acrylamide.

In a cohort study (statistical study that compares two groups) (ENVIRONAGE, Environmental influence on early ageing), the umbilical cord blood is collected from the child just after birth to be analysed to assess the exposure of the foetus to acrylamide in the 3 to 4 last months of pregnancy. The children are then followed for several years to observe the occurrence of possible health problems.

As part of this project, Sciensano is developing a method to detect and analyse markers of acrylamide in the blood (Modified Edman Degradation).

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