Research recently completed by The Procter & Gamble Company (P&G) says that many foods, including roasted asparagus, banana chips, toasted English muffins, taco shells and pretzels, may have measurable levels of acrylamide.

According to Henry Chin, Ph.D., vice president, Center for Technical Assistance at the National Food Processors Association, P&G’s research will help the food industry understand acrylamide formation in various foods. “The results move our state of knowledge on acrylamide forward on two fronts,” Chin says. “First, this research has extended the capability of analytical laboratories to test foods for acrylamide, and second, this research significantly enhances our scientific understanding of the mechanisms involved in the formation of acrylamide during food preparation.”

P&G also reported that the naturally occurring amino acid, asparagine, coupled with a carbonyl source (e.g., reducing sugars like dextrose) is a key precursor to acrylamide in food products. This new knowledge suggests that there are other ways to reduce acrylamide in foods than simply reducing frying temperature.

Several health organizations around the world have indicated acrylamide may be formed in a wide range of foods, particularly those prepared at high temperatures.