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Food chemistry

Acrylamide from Maillard reaction products


The discovery of the adventitious formation of the potential cancer-causing agent acrylamide in a variety of foods during cooking1,2 has raised much concern3,4, but the chemical mechanism(s) governing its production are unclear. Here we show that acrylamide can be released by the thermal treatment of certain amino acids (asparagine, for example), particularly in combination with reducing sugars, and of early Maillard reaction products (N-glycosides)5. Our findings indicate that the Maillard-driven generation of flavour and colour in thermally processed foods can — under particular conditions — be linked to the formation of acrylamide.

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Figure 1: Production of acrylamide from N-glycosides.


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Correspondence to Richard H. Stadler.

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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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Stadler, R., Blank, I., Varga, N. et al. Acrylamide from Maillard reaction products. Nature 419, 449–450 (2002).

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