Processed food manufacturers are preparing for the looming enforcement deadline of a chemical listed recently under California’s Proposition 65 that has the potential of sending many eager bounty hunters their way.
Tom Jonaiatis, a Scientific and Regulatory Associate with Intertek Canada wrote recently that furfuryl alcohol is found in a variety of foods, including bread, beer, wine, milk, coffee and cooked meat, and other alcoholic beverages. Jonaiatis says this common compound could have serious implications for food and beverage companies selling products in California, and face similar issues that have occurred with acrylamide
Furfuryl Alcohol (CAS No. 98-00-0) was listed as a carcinogen by California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) on September 30, 20016 with little fanfare.
The agency based its listing on a 2014 report issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Pesticide Programs entitled Cancer Assessment Document, Evaluation of the Carcinogenic Potential of Furfural Furfuryl Alcohol. OEHHA contends that the final report concludes that furfuryl alcohol is “Likely to be Carcinogenic to Humans.”
“The Carcinogen Assessment Review Committee (CARC), a committee within the U.S. EPA’s Office of Pesticide Programs (OPP) made the cancer recommendation, however food manufacturers argue that there is no evidence that the OPP accepted the recommendation. They contend that the “Likely to be Carcinogenic to Humans designation was not the final action of the U.S. EPA on the classification of the chemical.
Furfuryl alcohol is used to produce furan resins, as a chemical intermediate in the synthesis of other chemicals, and as a solvent in textile printing and alkaline paint strippers. In addition to its use as a solvent and chemical precursor, furfuryl alcohol is also produced from the formation of furans that occurs during thermal processing. The chemical forms in foods during thermal processing and from the dehydration of sugars. The formation of Furfuryl alcohol in foods is a result of the Maillard reaction, which coincidentally is the same mechanism that causes the formation of acrylamide in fried, roasted and baked foods.
Food manufacturers have in the last two years been buffeted with notices of violation citing a failure to warn about the presence of acrylamide in products that you are likely to find in the baked goods aisle of most grocery stores and faced a few high-profile enforcement actions brought by the Attorney General’s office.
OEHHA has not yet formulated a Safe Harbor Level for Furfuryl Alcohol.