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Biscuits safe to consume in moderation, certain compounds form naturally when food is processed: SFA

SINGAPORE – Biscuits and other fried, baked or roasted goods are safe to eat when consumed in moderation, said the Singapore Food Agency (SFA) in a statement on Friday (Oct 29).

The statement was in response to a report released earlier this month by the Hong Kong Consumer Council, which found cancer-causing substances in 60 biscuit samples tested.

The report found traces of acrylamide and glycidyl fatty acid esters (GE) and 3-MCPD esters, compounds that are formed naturally when food undergoes processing at high temperatures and in low moisture environments, said SFA.

While the Hong Kong report described the compounds as carcinogens, the SFA said that the International Agency for Research on Cancer did not find conclusive evidence that they could cause cancer in humans.

“These compounds are naturally formed when food products are processed at high temperatures and low moisture,” said SFA.

“The manufacturing of biscuits and crackers involves food processing at high temperatures and the use of ingredients that contain refined fats and oils. It is therefore expected that acrylamide, GE and 3-MCPD esters were detected in samples of biscuits and crackers tested.”

The samples tested included biscuits from common brands such as Oreo, Ritz, Jacob’s, Julie’s and Hup Seng.

Malaysian health director-general Noor Hisham Abdullah said on Wednesday (Oct 27) that the health risk from cancer-causing substances in some ingredients used in biscuits is low.

He added that while acrylamide is a contaminant produced during food processing or making the product, their production can be controlled by selecting the appropriate raw materials and processes.

SFA added that there are currently no international standards governing the maximum limits of such compounds in food.

The Codex Alimentarius Commission, an international food safety body, advises food manufacturers to minimise the amount of these compounds as much as possible without affecting the food supply chain.

A similar approach has been adopted by Singapore as well as New Zealand, Australia and the United States.

The SFA said that it will continue to keep updated with the latest developments surrounding these compounds and monitor the levels of these compounds across the food supply in order to ensure the safety of Singaporean consumers.

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