The recent report of elevated acrylamide levels in heat processing foods evoked an international health alarm. Acrylamide, an acknowledged potential genetic and reproductive toxin with mutagenic and carcinogenic properties in experimental mammalians, has been found in various heat processing foods. Many original contributions reported their findings on the formation mechanism and possible reduction methods of acrylamide. The aim of this review article is to summarize the state-of-the-art about the formation and reduction of acrylamide in the Maillard reaction. This research progress includes mechanistic studies on the correlation between the Maillard reaction and acrylamide, the formation mechanism of acrylamide, the main pathways of formation and impact factors on formation including cultivars, storage temperature, storage time, heat temperature, heat time, environmental pH, concentration of precursors, effects of food matrixes, type of oil, etc. Meanwhile, primary mechanisms on the reduction of acrylamide as well as reduction pathways including material and processing related ways and use of exogenous chemical additives are systematically reviewed. The mitigation studies on acrylamide are also summarized by the Confederation of the Food and Drink Industries of the EU (CIAA) “Toolbox” approach.
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