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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Tests for the depolymerization of polyacrylamides as a potential source of acrylamide in heated foods.

This study was conducted to test the possibility that polyacrylamides used in agriculture may contribute to acrylamide formation in heated foods by thermal depolymerization. Two samples of polyacrylamide with low molecular weights of 1.5 and 10 kDa were used to test for in-chain and end-chain depolymerization. They were added as aqueous solutions to filter paper for heating in a drying/dry environment and added to a cooking oil for heating in a fatty environment. The heating conditions were 175 degrees C for 15 and 30 min, respectively. Both regimens were tested in the absence and presence of the redox-active metal ions Fe(III) and Cu(II), and all tests were conducted without the exclusion of atmospheric oxygen. There was no evidence of any significant depolymerization of polyacrylamide to free acrylamide monomer, <0.04%. In fact, residual levels of acrylamide present already in the low molecular weight polymers were seen to fall by 50-80% on heating. Consequently, it is concluded that even if polyacrylamides were to contaminate agricultural crops and foods derived therefrom (which itself is an unproven suggestion), there is no evidence that the polymers would depolymerize on heating of the food to form acrylamide in any significant amount.[1]


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