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Food Chem Toxicol. 2008 Dec;46(12):3697-702. doi: 10.1016/j.fct.2008.09.048. Epub 2008 Sep 26.

Dietary exposure to 5-hydroxymethylfurfural from Norwegian food and correlations with urine metabolites of short-term exposure.

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Division of Environmental Medicine, Norwegian Institute of Public Health, Nydalen, 0403 Oslo, NO, Norway.


5-Hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF) is formed in carbohydrate-rich food during acid-catalysed dehydration and in the Maillard reaction from reducing sugars. HMF is found in mg quantities per kg in various foods. HMF is mainly metabolised to 5-hydroxymethyl-2-furoic acid (HMFA), but unknown quantities of the mutagenic 5-sulphoxymethylfurfural (SMF) may also be formed, making HMF potentially hazardous to humans. We determined the HMF content in Norwegian food items and estimated the dietary intake of HMF in 53 volunteers by means of 24h dietary recall. The estimated intakes of HMF were correlated with urinary excretion of HMFA. Coffee, prunes, dark beer, canned peaches and raisins had the highest levels of HMF. The 95th percentile of the estimated daily dietary intake of HMF and the 24h urinary excretion of HMFA were 27.6 and 28.6mg, respectively. Coffee, dried fruit, honey and alcohol were identified as independent determinants of urinary HMFA excretion. Most participants had lower estimated HMF intake than the amount of HMFA excreted in urine. In spite of this there was a significant correlation (r=0.57, P<0.001) between the estimated HMF intake and urinary HMFA. Further studies are needed to reveal alternative sources for HMF exposure.

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