ASNInsta Test: "at the gate" rapid test for asparagine in flour

Lead Participant: Curtis Analytics Limited


Acrylamide is a toxic chemical that forms in starchy food products and in coffee during high temperature cooking, including baking, frying and industrial processing. Acrylamide is a Class 2a carcinogen, is neurotoxic and has been linked to male infertility. The acrylamide metabolite glycidamide appears to be the major carcinogen found in laboratory tests carried out on rodents. In humans, epidemiological studies have presented evidence suggesting a link between AA and the incidence of pancreatic cancer, Hodgkin's disease, and cancers in the brain, central nervous system \[Mendel, J.Agri&Food.Chem., 2003\].

Recent publication of 20-Nov-2017, EU COMMISSION REGULATION (EU 2017/2158) that establishes mitigation measures and benchmark levels for the reduction of acrylamide in food, requires business operators to follow those procedures necessary to meet targets set to achieve the objectives of the Regulation. To confirm compliance with benchmark levels, the effectiveness of mitigation measures by industry will have to be verified through sampling, testing and analysis.

The Maillard Reaction between free asparagine (ASN) and reducing sugars present in food causes the acrylamide to form; it is the same reaction that 'browns' food and produces the flavours and aromas associated with fried baked and roasted foods. In wheat and coffee this reaction is limited by the amount of free asparagine. Therefore, to implement an acrylamide reduction strategy, it is vital not only to measure acrylamide, but also free asparagine.

This project will develop ASNInstaTest, an innovative at-the-gate, rapid and easy-to-use test for asparagine in flour (with later applications in coffee and potato) to meet this need and allow the cereal industry to respond to regulatory bench mark levels."

Lead Participant

Project Cost

Grant Offer

Curtis Analytics Limited, Harpenden £109,500 £ 76,650


Apreslabs Ltd, HARPENDEN £45,537 £ 31,876
The Bio Nano Centre Limited, London £367,104 £ 256,973


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