Acrylamide in French fries prepared at primary school canteens
Children are one the most exposed groups to dietary acrylamide, ‘Potato fried products’ accounting for up to half the total exposure to this contaminant. Acrylamide was determined in French fries prepared in 31 primary school canteens randomly recruited from different Spanish regions. The mean content was 329 μg kg-1 (from < 20 to 4000 μg kg-1). French fries prepared from frozen par-fried potato reported lower acrylamide content than those from fresh potato, 229 and 460 µg kg-1, respectively. Only 15.7% of samples were above the benchmark levels established by the EU Regulation 2017/2158 (500 µg kg-1). Significant differences were found according to the color for toasted (2274 µg kg-1), dark-golden (463 µg kg-1), golden (134 µg kg-1) and light-golden (52 µg kg-1) French fries. All the samples sorted as golden and light-golden showed acrylamide content below the threshold. Chromatic parameter a* was able for a rough classification of the French fries according to the benchmark level. Both educational initiatives intended to food operators and managerial-technical criteria to include in the code of frying practices at the public food service establishments should consider the golden color as the target for the end-point of frying. The acrylamide exposure will be reduced and, therefore, the risk linked to the French fries’ consumption. This fact turns out especially relevant in establishments preparing foods for schoolchildren and would help to provide healthier diets, not only from a nutritional point of view but also from the reduction of chemical contaminants.