Acrylamide contamination in plant-based protein ingredients
Acrylamide in commercially available plant-based protein ingredients (PBPI) is of concern, according to a study published in 2023.

Acrylamide is a probable carcinogen that can be formed during the processing of PBPIs. The study found significant differences in acrylamide content among different types of PBPIs produced with various processing technologies. The researchers classified PBPIs into four categories: flours, dry-fractionated proteins, wet-extracted proteins, and texturized vegetable proteins. The study examined 17 different types of PBPIs of various origins and types and found significant variability in acrylamide contamination in each class Flours had the lowest mean acrylamide content (280 µg kg−1), while wet-extracted proteins exhibited the highest (451 µg kg−1).

Differences in contamination levels can be linked to the use of different raw materials (which may contain different levels of precursors) and to the different processing technologies employed. Post-harvest treatments such as drying and milling operations could cause an increase in temperatures, leading to acrylamide formation.

The benchmark levels for the presence of acrylamide in foodstuffs are listed in Commission Regulation (EU) 2017/2158. Although acrylamide content regulations apply to some common food industry products in the European Union, PBPIs are currently not monitored or regulated. Given the growing demand for PBPIs and their presence in the global market, it is essential for policymakers and regulatory authorities to take steps to monitor and regulate these components.

The authors highlighted the need for further research on factors influencing acrylamide formation in PBPIs, including agronomic practices, raw material composition, and processing variables. Identifying critical stages during processing and implementing appropriate mitigation strategies would help reduce the presence of this hazardous pollutant in plant-based protein products.


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