Toxicology and risk assessment of acrolein in food
Acrolein is an alpha,beta-unsaturated aldehyde formed by thermal treatment of animal and vegetable fats, carbohydrates and amino acids. In addition it is generated endogenously. As an electrophile, acrolein forms adducts with gluthathione and other cellular components and is therefore cytotoxic. Mutagenicity was shown in some in vitro tests. Acrolein forms different DNA adducts in vivo, but mutagenic and cancerogenous effects have not been demonstrated for oral exposure. In subchronic oral studies, local lesions were detected in the stomach of rats. Systemic effects have not been reported from basic studies. A WHO working group established a tolerable oral acrolein intake of 7.5 mu g/kg body weight/day. Acrolein exposure via food cannot be assessed due to analytical difficulties and the lack of reliable content measurements. Human biomonitoring of an acrolein urinary metabolite allows rough estimates of acrolein exposure in the range of a few mu g/kg body weight/day. High exposure could be ten times higher after the consumption of certain foods. Although the estimation of the dietary acrolein exposure is associated with uncertainties, it is concluded that a health risk seems to be unlikely.