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Acrylamide reliably detectable - qualified laboratories available
Just under nine months after the first reports about acrylamide detection in foods, it is now official: acrylamide analytics are "established" in Germany. The methods examined in proficiency testing in laboratories of the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) have proved to be suitable for the detection of this chemical substance in foods. A total of 32 state laboratories, private laboratories and laboratories of the food industry took part in the proficiency testing. The results were presented and discussed on 16 December 2002 in the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment. At the same time, the participants agreed on the next steps.
At a first meeting in June of this year, representatives of the test laboratories of official food control, private laboratories and industry exchanged their experience with acrylamide analytics. Under the aegis of BfR they decided to carry out international comparative studies. The goal was to examine whether different analytical methods produce comparable results about acrylamide levels.
Prior to proficiency testing, a test sample is sent to the participating laboratories with a known substance level. Using this sample, the laboratories examine whether they can obtain comparable results with their studies. In a second step, they must then determine unknown substance levels in homogenous samples. To this end, the Federal Institute sent six homogeneous samples (crisp bread, butter biscuits, potato puree and cocoa) with unknown acrylamide levels to 47 laboratories in September. 32 of them sent their study results back to BfR. The evaluation showed that the large majority of the laboratories (depending on the food 26-30 out of 32) detected comparable acrylamide levels with their analytical methods. Detection proved to be most difficult in cocoa, a relatively complex food. Here, the variability in the results was larger than for other samples. This will lead to efforts to further improve the analytics of acrylamide in complex foods. The participants wish to focus on a follow-up study of this food under the aegis of the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment.
The proficiency testing revealed that today acrylamide levels up to concentrations of 10-30 microgram (µg) per kilogram (kg) and up to a level of on average 50 µg/kg can be reliably quantified. Lower concentrations can only detected at present with a considerable input of material and time. Even if the focus must be on reducing acrylamide levels in highly exposed foods, further efforts are required in order to refine the detection methods so that acrylamide levels can also be reliably detected in foods with a lower level of exposure.
Details of the methodology and a description of the acrylamide analytics used in BfR are available on the Institute's homepage (www.bfr.bund.de) under "Latest news/Materials and links to acrylamide" (in German). On their completion, a report of the final discussions of 16 December 2002 will also be made available.