The problem of contaminants in common foods is not a new one, but the perception of it amongst consumers and regulators is increasing. Acrylamide and furans, for example, must have been present in food since humans began to use cooking, but their presence was discovered only recently. Both are formed in fried, baked and roasted foods as a result of the Maillard reaction, a series of non-enzymic reactions involving the thermal degradation of amino acids in the presence of reducing sugars. This reaction also imparts qualities to food that consumers demand, such as colour, flavour and aroma, making the problem all the more intractable. The food industry has developed a number of strategies for modifying processing methods to reduce the formation of these contaminants. However, it is important that further progress be made.
This two-day focussed meeting followed successful conferences on acrylamide held in 2006 and 2009, but had a wider remit to consider furans and other food-borne contaminants as well. It brought together scientists from academia and industry to examine the issue from genetics and agronomy through to food processing.
Editor: Nigel Halford (2012, 138pp)