Development of a new generation biosensor for the measurement of reducing sugars in potatoes and assessment of acrylamide formation”
Project funded by the European Commission under the VI Framework programme (CRAFT)
Project No. 31588-REFLAB
In April 2002 Stockholm University and the Swedish National Food Authority (SNFA) published the results of a research survey, which showed that unexpectedly high levels of acrylamide were generated in a wide range of starch-rich foods cooked by frying or baking. This finding was of great importance, because acrylamide is classified as a human neurotoxin, showing genotoxic and carcinogenic properties. The highest acrylamide levels were found in:

  • French fries,
  • potato chips,
  • other fried, deep-fried or oven-baked potato products.


Both asparagine and reducing sugars can be found in potatoes in higher amounts than in any other starch-rich food products, and acrylamide is formed during the cooking of these components. By reducing the levels of reducing sugars in these food stuffs it is believed this will reduce the concentration of acylamide forming during the cooking process. The concentrations of reducing sugars can vary between 0.1 to 10mg/g.

Factors which effect reducing sugar concentrations in potatoes include crop variety, growing conditions, maturity by harvesting and specially storage conditions.
Controlling storage conditions of potatoes is a simple method for reducing the reducing sugar content and therefore acrylamide levels in cooked potato products. Monitoring sugar levels during harvesting and storage is therefore an essential step towards the guarantee the suitability of specific lots of potatoes for processing.
The aim of REFLAB is therefore to develop a biosensor that allows the frequent monitoring of the reducing sugar levels during harvesting and storage of potatoes.
The REFLAB technology will allow for the parallel quantification of different reducing sugars. Furthermore, the current biosensors available in the market are only able to work in oxidative conditions. REFLAB offers the possibility of biosensors that can function both in reductive and oxidative conditions. This overcomes the interference caused by substances such as ascorbic acid (Vitamin C), other vitamins, and phenolic compounds, and also delivers higher sensitivities of detection.


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