Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Cornell chemist explains how acrylamide, a possible carcinogen, might be formed when starch-rich foods are fried or baked

20.12.2002


Last April Swedish scientists discovered high levels of a potentially cancer-causing chemical called acrylamide in wide range of starch-containing foods that are fried or baked, particularly french fries, potato chips and crackers. The announcement received worldwide publicity. But at the time, no one knew where the acrylamide came from, how it was formed, or, indeed, if there is a link between acrylamide in food and cancer. The findings were quickly confirmed by the British Food Standards Agency. Earlier this autumn the source of the acrylamide was identified independently by researchers at the University of Reading in England, Nestlé in Switzerland and Procter & Gamble in the United States. They showed that acrylamide is produced when asparagine, an amino acid abundant in cereals and grains, is heated above 100 degrees Centigrade (212 degrees Fahrenheit) with either of two sugars, glucose or 2-deoxyglucose.



Now Bruce Ganem, a professor in Cornell University’s Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, has offered a more-detailed chemical explanation about how acrylamide is produced when starch-containing foods are fried or cooked at high temperatures. His theory is proposed in a letter, "Explaining acrylamides in food," in a recent issue of the journal Chemical and Engineering News (Dec. 2, 2002).

Acrylamide is a polymer that is widely used in the treatment of drinking water. It also is used in the manufacture of plastics. It was first evaluated as probably carcinogenic to humans in 1994 by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. But it was not known to occur in high levels in fried or baked foods before this year’s Swedish study.


"The organic chemistry of what happens is not very well understood," Ganem says. "Everyone agrees that a molecule of carbon dioxide must be lost in order to form acrylamide, but it was unclear how that might happen." The British and Swiss research teams invoked the Maillard reaction to explain the formation of acrylamide, but they did not propose any chemical details. The Maillard reaction, also known as non-enzymatic browning, was first observed in 1912 by Louis Camille Maillard. It involves the reactions between proteins and carbohydrates that cause food to turn brown when cooked. The reactions result in the formation of many products, most of which have some impact on the flavor and appearance of cooked food.

Procter & Gamble scientists noticed that acrylamide also was formed from a combination of the amino acid asparagine and the sugar 2-deoxyglucose. "This is interesting because 2-deoxyglucose lacks a key molecular feature needed for the Maillard reaction," says Ganem.

"That’s where my letter to Chemical & Engineering News comes in. By focusing on explaining how carbon dioxide might be released, I recognized another plausible reaction pathway -- not involving the Maillard reaction -- that could account for the formation of acrylamide. My idea was based on how some biological systems achieve decarboxylation, which means the loss of carbon dioxide. That connection provided a big clue that led to the step-by-step chemical mechanism I present in my letter."

Instead of undergoing the Maillard reaction, fried or baked foods, Ganem suggests, undergo an alternative chemical pathway that results in the loss of carbon dioxide through natural metabolic processes, known as enzymatic decarboxylation.

"The asparagine is the actual source of acrylamide," Ganem says. "The pathway I presented probably would not occur under normal biological conditions, but it’s important to recognize that we’re talking about temperatures well above 100 degrees Centigrade while the food is being cooked."

Blaine P. Friedlander Jr. | Cornell News
Further information:
http://www.news.cornell.edu/releases/Dec02/Acrylamide.Ganem.bpf.html

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Topologische Quantenchemie
21.07.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Chemische Physik fester Stoffe

nachricht Topological Quantum Chemistry
21.07.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Chemische Physik fester Stoffe

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Manipulating Electron Spins Without Loss of Information

Physicists have developed a new technique that uses electrical voltages to control the electron spin on a chip. The newly-developed method provides protection from spin decay, meaning that the contained information can be maintained and transmitted over comparatively large distances, as has been demonstrated by a team from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute. The results have been published in Physical Review X.

For several years, researchers have been trying to use the spin of an electron to store and transmit information. The spin of each electron is always coupled...

Im Focus: The proton precisely weighted

What is the mass of a proton? Scientists from Germany and Japan successfully did an important step towards the most exact knowledge of this fundamental constant. By means of precision measurements on a single proton, they could improve the precision by a factor of three and also correct the existing value.

To determine the mass of a single proton still more accurate – a group of physicists led by Klaus Blaum and Sven Sturm of the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear...

Im Focus: On the way to a biological alternative

A bacterial enzyme enables reactions that open up alternatives to key industrial chemical processes

The research team of Prof. Dr. Oliver Einsle at the University of Freiburg's Institute of Biochemistry has long been exploring the functioning of nitrogenase....

Im Focus: The 1 trillion tonne iceberg

Larsen C Ice Shelf rift finally breaks through

A one trillion tonne iceberg - one of the biggest ever recorded -- has calved away from the Larsen C Ice Shelf in Antarctica, after a rift in the ice,...

Im Focus: Laser-cooled ions contribute to better understanding of friction

Physics supports biology: Researchers from PTB have developed a model system to investigate friction phenomena with atomic precision

Friction: what you want from car brakes, otherwise rather a nuisance. In any case, it is useful to know as precisely as possible how friction phenomena arise –...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Closing the Sustainability Circle: Protection of Food with Biobased Materials

21.07.2017 | Event News

»We are bringing Additive Manufacturing to SMEs«

19.07.2017 | Event News

The technology with a feel for feelings

12.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

NASA looks to solar eclipse to help understand Earth's energy system

21.07.2017 | Earth Sciences

Stanford researchers develop a new type of soft, growing robot

21.07.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Vortex photons from electrons in circular motion

21.07.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>