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Acrylamide and Furan – Dangers from the coffee roasting process


Acrylamide and Furan are known to be two compounds with high carcinogenic potential. They often appear in foods and drinks that use high temperatures for processing, such as coffee roasting. When formed, both substances can contaminate food, affecting the health of users. Find out with 43 Factory Coffee Roaster!


Can the presence of Acrylamide and Furan in roasted coffee lead to cancer?


Furan (C4H4O) is classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer as a possible human carcinogen in group 2B (substances or mixtures that, when exposed, may cause cancer in humans). This substance can be formed from carbohydrates, and amino acids by thermal decomposition or thermal rearrangement and by oxidation of ascorbic acid, polyunsaturated acids, and carotenoids. According to specialized information, furan concentrations are high in coffee, baked and roasted foods as well as in foods stored in cans and jars. Furan levels in brewed coffee are typically near or below 120 μg/L. But it can reach thousands of μg/kg in whole roasted coffee beans or ground coffee with the highest level in roasted coffee reaching up to 7000 μg/kg.

Acrylamide is a chemical used in industries such as pulp and paper, construction, oil drilling, textiles, cosmetics, food processing, plastics, mining, and agriculture. It can be found in small amounts in products including glue, food packaging, and some adhesives or cigarette smoke. In the food industry, Acrylamide can form naturally from chemical reactions in some starchy products, after baking and roasting. Some foods with higher levels of acrylamide include coffee, and grain-based foods (such as breakfast cereals, cookies, and toast). According to the US EPA, this compound is also one of the potentially carcinogenic substances in group 2A (a group of substances suspected of causing cancer).

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Acrylamide and Furan are substances that can cause cancer


Acrylamide or Furan always exists during the coffee roasting process


A report at the Food Chemistry Institute at the Technical University of Braunschweig in Germany said that acrylamide concentrations form rapidly during the browning stage of food, and gradually decrease with longer and darker roasting. Meanwhile, furan levels are lowest at the lightest roast and increase with the dark roast. Based on this, scientists believe that acrylamide or furan always exists in coffee after roasting. One study experimentally adjusted roasting parameters to minimize both substances. However, the results show that changing roasting time, temperature, and roasting configuration is only capable of reducing one of the two substances. In particular, the acrylamide content gradually decreases as the roasting level increases. Furan and methylfuran content increases during roasting and is highest in dark-roasted coffee.

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As the roasting level increases, the furan content increases and the acrylamide content gradually decreases

Although harmful substances exist, researchers note that coffee also contains many antioxidants that are believed to be beneficial to human health. Many studies have shown that drinking coffee regularly can help prevent death, depression, and even cancer. However, coffee should be used reasonably and combined with a diet and active lifestyle. Additionally, scientists are also working to find solutions to reduce toxic substances in coffee. Stay updated with the latest news in the coffee industry by following 43 Factory Coffee Roaster’s news channel.

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