But, as a result of some recent studies, people are starting to question the health implications of grilled meat. Does it mean you should skip Uncle Joe’s annual summer cookout?
Here’s what the USDA has to say:
Some studies suggest there may be a cancer risk related to eating food cooked by high-heat cooking techniques as grilling, frying, and broiling. Based on present research findings, eating moderate amounts of grilled meats like fish, meat, and poultry cooked – without charring – to a safe temperature does not pose a problem.
There a basically two issues.
The first is charring. When meat becomes charred, it develops carcinogenic compounds called HCAs. These compounds have been shown to increase possible risk of breast, colon, prostate and stomach cancer. In fact, in one study, researchers found that individuals who ate beef medium-well or well-done beef had 3x the stomach cancer risk than individuals who at their beef rare or medium-rare.
The second issue is caused by meat fat dripping onto an open flame. This results in a flare-up of fire and smoke – and carcinogens called PAHs are deposited onto the meat.
Both charring and flare-ups can be prevented with these five tips:
- Cook at lower temperatures and don’t burn meat. This will prevent charring.
- Trim fat off of meat to reduce flare-ups.
- Marinate meats. One study showed that marinades may act as a barrier – and can reduce carcinogens by as much as 90%!
- Remove any charred or burnt pieces before consuming meat.
- Cook on a grill with a flavor bar between the food and flame.
The good news is there’s no need to cancel Uncle Joe’s annual barbeque. Just be sure to use the above tips to make your grilling season as healthy as possible – and remember, everything in moderation. Including moderation.