Healthier French fries
Norwegian researchers have found the solution to avoiding acrylamide in deep-fried potato products. Their goal now is to sell the technology to both European and American companies.
Zeracryl AS will be responsible for sales. This company, which has its origins in the research environment at the food research institute Nofima, has developed and patented the method, which is extremely effective in industrial processes. It can reduce the level of acrylamide in deep-fried potato products by as much as ninety percent. The technique uses lactic acid bacteria to remove sugar from the surface of the potato products that are to be deep-fried, something that in turn inhibits the formation of acrylamide.
“Gaining an overview of lactic acid bacteria is an important area within microbiological research at Nofima, and it is this research that forms the basis for the technological solution that we’re now on the cusp of launching internationally,” explains Hans Blom, senior advisor at Nofima and one of the founders of Zeracryl.
Internationalization stipend provides a boost
A stipend of NOK 500,000 from NORINT (the Norwegian business sector’s foundation for increased internationalization) will be spent on marketing in the US, Canada, and Europe. The greatest challenge is the current lack of legal requirements for the removal of acrylamide from French fries. The strategy will therefore will be to gain access to the major fast food chains and persuade them to spearhead the movement.
Reducing the acrylamide content will of course entail an additional expense, and the food industry’s American lobbyists are doing what they can to prevent a legal requirement. “But studies show that acrylamide is carcinogenic and may damage DNA,” Blom points out, “so our goal is to get the companies to see the value of being socially responsible in this area.”
An inexpensive method
Using lactic acid bacteria to reduce acrylamide content is both cost-efficient and environmentally friendly – and far less expensive than other treatments. This is primarily because the bacteria propagate quickly and grow by themselves.
“The method itself is based on 20 years of research on lactic acid bacteria,” Hans Blom continues. “Much of the current research on lactic acid bacteria focuses on nutrition and health. Lactic acid bacteria are known as ‘the gentle bacteria’, and are already much in use in food production. In addition to being able to inhibit the growth of other, dangerous bacteria, they can potentially increase a product’s shelf-life, taste, and nutritional value. Many lactic acid bacteria have probiotic qualities and may thereby promote good health. Such bacteria can serve to develop new products with health benefits, especially within medicine. Nofima conducts extensive research in this field, with bioeconomy being a major area of focus. There are hundreds of different types of lactic acid bacteria, and many of them have yet to be researched in depth. An increase in our knowledge will provide new opportunities and a major potential for added value.”