Acrylamide is formed during baking in some frequently consumed food products. It is proven to be carcinogenic in rodents and a probable human carcinogen. Thus, the food industry is working to find solutions to minimize its formation during processing. To better understand the sources of its formation, the present study is aimed at investigating how acrylamide concentration may be influenced by bakery-making parameters within a parallel strategy of mycotoxin mitigation (focusing specifically on deoxynivalenol—DON) related to wholegrain and cocoa biscuit production. Among Fusarium toxins, DON is considered the most important contaminant in wheat and related bakery products, such as biscuits, due to its widespread occurrence. Exploiting the power of a Design of Experiments (DoE), several conditions were varied as mycotoxin contamination levels of the raw materials, recipe formulation, pH value of dough, and baking time/temperature; each selected treatment was varied within a defined range according to the technological requirements to obtain an appreciable product for consumers. Experiments were performed in a pilot-plant scale in order to simulate an industrial production and samples were extracted and analysed by HPLC-MS/MS system. Applying a baking temperature of 200 °C at the highest sugar dose, acrylamide increased its concentration, and in particular, levels ranged from 306 ± 16 µg/Kg d.m. and 400 ± 27 µg/Kg d.m. in biscuits made without and with the addition of cocoa, respectively. Conversely, using a baking temperature of 180 °C in the same conditions (pH, baking time, and sugar concentrations), acrylamide values remained below 125 ± 14 µg/Kg d.m. and 156 ± 15 µg/Kg d.m. in the two final products. The developed predictive model suggested how some parameters can concretely contribute to limit acrylamide formation in the final product, highlighting a significant role of pH value (correlated also to sodium bicarbonate raising agent), followed by baking time/temperature parameters. In particular, the increasing range of baking conditions influenced in a limited way the final acrylamide content within the parallel effective range of DON reduction. The study represents a concrete example of how the control and optimization of selected operative parameters may lead to multiple mitigation of specific natural/process contaminants in the final food products, though still remaining in the sensorial satisfactory range.
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