Independent News For The Australian Public Service
Edition Number 408. Updated Tuesday, 06 May 2014

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Additive food for thought

Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) has released the first phase of the 24th Australian Total Diet Study (ATDS) which looked at Australian consumers' dietary exposure to acrylamide and aluminium.

Chief Executive Officer of FSANZ, Steve McCutcheon said levels of acrylamide in Australian foods and beverages were generally comparable or lower than those observed internationally.

Mr McCutcheon said, however, the estimated dietary exposure remained in the range considered to be of possible human health concern by international expert committees.

"FSANZ is working with industry to look at ways to reduce acrylamide levels in food, such as encouraging industry to use enzymes that reduce acrylamide formation," he said.

Diet study finds health concerns

Mr McCutcheon said acrylamide formed naturally in carbohydrate-rich foods during high temperature cooking, such as baking, frying and grilling, and it could also occur through food processing methods used to enhance flavour and colour in snack foods such as potato crisps.

"The ATDS also looked at aluminium levels in the many foods that contain it naturally as well as processed foods likely to have additives containing aluminium," he said.

"Most foods had some levels of aluminium, with the highest levels found in cakes, pikelets and pancakes."

Mr McCutcheon said these results were consistent with international findings and indicated that most of the Australian population's exposure to aluminium was within internationally recognised safe level - however there was a slight exceedance for two to five-year-old high consumers.

"It is unlikely that this slight exceedance represents a public health and safety issue-however FSANZ is investigating whether the current permissions for aluminium-containing food additives are still appropriate," he said.

"FSANZ is committed to the ongoing monitoring of the Australian food supply and the ATDS is one tool we use to keep an eye on food and ensure its safety for Australian consumers."

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