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Reducing Acrylamide Risk in Processed Sweetpotato

Project Description

Acrylamide is common in foods derived from grains, tubers, beans and storage roots, including potatoes, cereal grains and sweetpotato. It is produced where glucose, fructose or maltose react with free (soluble, non-protein) asparagine in the Maillard reaction at high cooking temperatures (> 120º C). Concerns over the dietary intake of food high in acrylamide has arisen due to its identification as a probable carcinogen. Fried potato products have proven of particular concern, with levels ranging from 150 - >1000 ppb. However, preliminary tests on fried sweetpotato products show significantly higher levels of acrylamide, ranging from 700-4000 ppb.

Sweetpotato is a major staple food crop in many low and lower-middle income countries, where and food systems and preferences are currently changing rapidly in response to rapid urbanisation and other drivers of change; leading to amongst other things, an increase in the consumption of ready-to-eat fried and roasted street foods. Where sweetpotato is fried, roasted or incorporated into baked products, the risk of forming acrylamide and the associated implications for dietary intake are a concern. Further research into the extent of the problem, through surveys and analysis of fried sweetpotato products, along with the development and testing of interventions to lower the acrylamide risk are needed.

This multidisciplinary project is in collaboration with Prof. Nigel Halford (Rothamsted Research) and will investigate the asparagine synthesis pathway in sweetpotato as a means to select breeding material with a reduced propensity to generate acrylamide. Field based surveys in Sub-Saharan African countries will evaluate the risk acrylamide contamination poses in fried and processed sweetpotato food stuffs. Moreover, basic methods of evaluating the acrylamide-forming potential of sweetpotato in the field and the development of a fry colour scale for different varieties will form part of the study.

For further information please contact the supervisors : Dr Richard Colgan: ; Dr Tanya Stathers: ; Prof. Nigel Halford:

Bursary available (subject to satisfactory performance):
Year 1: £15,009 Year 2: In line with UKRI rate Year 3: In line with UKRI rate
In addition, the successful candidate will receive a waiver for tuition fees for the duration of their three-year scholarship. Students may be liable for tuition fees after this period.
Scholarships are available for three years’ full-time study from the date scholars first register as an MPhil/PhD student with the university. Applicants must meet the programme entry requirements.
For additional information about the scholarship please go to:

Please read this information before making an application. Applications need to be made online via No other form of application will be considered.

All applications must include the following information. Applications not containing these documents will not be considered.
• In the first part of the application select the following: Food Science and Marketing Economics (MPhil/PhD)

• Scholarship Reference Number (Ref) – included in the personal statement section together with your personal statement as to why you are applying

• a CV including 2 referees *

• academic qualification certificates/transcripts and IELTs/English Language certificate if you are an international applicant or if English is not your first language or you are from a country where English is not the majority spoken language as defined by the UK Border Agency *

*upload to the qualification section of the application form. Attachments need to be in PDF format.

The closing date for applications is midnight (UTC) on 20 November 2019.
The scholarship must commence before 6th January 2020.

How good is research at University of Greenwich in Agriculture, Veterinary and Food Science?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 23.50

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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