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Cassava chips and crackers

In 2008, the NSW Food Authority conducted a survey of cassava-based vegetable chips and crackers to assess the safety of these products.

It was initiated after unusually high levels of cyanogenic glycosides had been found in some products available in the market.

Cassava contains the naturally occurring glycoside compound.

Correct preparation of cassava eliminates the compound, ensuring products with cassava are safe.

If not prepared correctly however, remaining cyanogenic glycoside can trigger cyanide to be made in the gut. This can be a health risk, especially for children.

2008 survey

The 2008 survey collected and tested 374 samples of cassava-based vegetable chips and crackers.

It found higher than expected levels of cyanogenic glycosides in many samples.

The 2008 survey activity led to a:

  • recommendation people limit consumption of these products
  • product recall
  • new standard introduced into the Food Standards Code imposing a maximum limit for cyanogenic glycoside.

After the survey, a concerted effort was made by manufacturers to change sources of cassava, product formulations and manufacturing methods to improve the safety of these products.

2011-2012 survey

The Food Authority tested another 325 samples of cassava-based chips during 2011 and 2012.

The survey found that:

  • cassava chips are much safer than they were in 2008
  • greater than 90% of samples were within an agreed guidance level that is considered safe
  • several brands of imported products labelled as tapioca chips were found to contain high levels of cyanogenic glycosides. Additional surveillance at the border by DAFF Biosecurity should be effective in rejecting non compliant products before they enter the country.

Follow up survey of cyanogenic glycosides in ready-to-eat cassava chips, December 2012 (pdf 434KB, 24pp)

Table of contents 
Executive summary
Introduction
- Hydrocyanic acid survey of cassava chips in 2008: levels of concern
- A maximum level for hydrocyanic acid in the Food Standards Code
- Inspection of imported products commenced in 2009
- Results of New Zealand testing
- Other published results
2011-12 survey methodology
- Sample range
- Compliance plan for ready-to-eat cassava chips
- Number of samples
- Risk management strategy
- Laboratory analysis
- Statistical analysis
Results and discussion
Conclusion
References
Appendix 1. Cassava chip survey results

With the changes introduced by local manufacturers and additional checks on imported products, consumption warnings for cassava chips are no longer considered necessary.