Acrylamide forms naturally when certain foods, particularly, potatoes, cereals and coffee, are processed at high temperatures. First discovered in food in 2002, acrylamide was confirmed as a carcinogen by the European Food Safety Agency (EFSA) in 2015.
Processors and vendors already follow a voluntary set of guidelines to reduce the presence of acrylamide in their food products but regulators have consistently found that levels are not falling. This year the European Commission proposed binding benchmark levels for the substance, which were adopted by member states on 19 July.
Yet critics fear the legislation will place an unnecessary burden on small businesses. Centre-right MEP Elisabeth Köstinger (EPP group) tabled a resolution objecting to the Commission’s draft regulation, which she described as “excessively prescriptive”.
The European Parliament’s environment, public health and food safety (ENVI) committee will vote on the resolution on Thursday.