The summer season is synonymous with barbecues, especially the Fourth of July! What most people don’t realize is that conventional grilling can actual produce carcinogens. Here are the sneaky ways that carcinogens sneak into your barbecue:
The Problem: Charred Meat
This occurs when meat is exposed to high heat to the point that it results in blackened char on the surface of the meat. If char is present, so is the carcinogenic compound HCA (heterocyclic amines). The more charring, the more carcinogens.
The Solution: Marinades
Using marinades and rubs that contain herbs can reduce charring and therefore, reduce carcinogens.
The Problem: Fat Drippings
When meat is cooked on a grill and produces fat drippings that hit the coals, that creates smoke containing toxic chemicals called PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons). The more smoke you see, the more PAHs that are being produced.
The Solution: Aluminum Foil
Simply place a layer of aluminum foil under the meat so that fat drippings are collected and contained in the foil, and never have a chance to hit the coals and produce smoke.
The Problem: Long Cooking Times at High Temperatures
As we’ve seen with carcinogen-producing char and smoke, the problem comes from cooking meat at high temperatures, and the longer the grill time, the more carcinogens produced. This also causes a chain reaction where AGEs (advanced glycation endproducts) are produced–inflammatory byproducts that actually ages your cells.
The Solution: Pre-cooking
Pre-cooking meat cuts down on time on the grill, and time to create PAHs and HCAs. Simply cook meat on low-heat before throwing it on the grill.
Beyond these simple safe grilling hacks, the easiest way to stay safe when grilling is to stick to grilling vegetables, and cooking all meat indoors.
Have a safe, fun, healthy, thriving Fourth of July!!