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Carcinogenic? Can burnt food really not be consumed?
Even if the weather doesn't play along every day: the barbecue season has already started. During a BBQ with friends, tips are often exchanged on how and what is best to grill. Health aspects are usually not in the foreground. Barbecue fans should note a few things here. For example, burned food should no longer be consumed.
Minimize health risks when grilling
Summertime is a barbecue season: there is hardly anything that is so popular among German citizens as to put sausages, meat, fish or even vegetarian dishes on the grill in a convivial atmosphere. Barbecue fans can talk for hours about how it tastes particularly good from the grill. However, safety and health aspects are addressed less frequently. But such issues are very important. For example, due to mishaps, carcinogenic substances can develop on the food. Some tips and tricks can help minimize the risks.
Do not eat charred food
If you are in a conversation with friends while grilling and are not paying attention, it can quickly happen that the food on the grill turns black. What should you do with it? Can charred meat still be eaten?
Health experts say no: "Steer clear of seared steaks and charred sausages," warns the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) on its website.
Strong heat from grilling creates substances that do not bode well: polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons or the heterocyclic aromatic amines (HAA).
"The heterocyclic aromatic amines that arise when grilling or roasting significantly increase the risk of developing certain tissue changes in the large intestine," it continues. These polyps, also called ademones, are often precursors for colorectal cancer.
When fat drips into the embers
In a study by the DKFZ with 4,484 test subjects, the researchers confirmed that there was a clear connection between the preference for fried foods and the frequency of adenomas.
When grilling, it should also be borne in mind that "heterocyclic aromatic amines are only part of the poison cocktail that can arise in meat and sausages," said the scientists.
For example, cancer-causing polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) can form when fat from meat and fish or oil drips from the marinade into the embers.
Use of grill trays
To avoid the development of PAH, as little fat and oil as possible should drip into the embers. "A simple solution is the use of grill trays, in which the liquids from the food are collected directly," writes the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR).
But here too there are a few things to consider. According to the experts, the use of aluminum trays or foils for grilling meat is acceptable, but acidic and salty foods should not come into contact with aluminum, as the metal can dissolve under the influence of acid or salt and enter the food.
As an alternative to the toxic aluminum foil, there are bowls made of stainless steel or enamel, which can be easily cleaned in the dishwasher after use.
In order to prevent the development of PAHs, you should also avoid extinguishing grilled meat with beer.
Reduce cancer pollutants
There are even more tips and tricks to design the BBQ without cancer contaminants. For example, food should not be cooked too long and not too low over the embers.
The consumer information service aid recommends that the distance should be at least a hand's breadth and that the food is grilled only as long and as hard as necessary.
Cancer can also be reduced when grilling by using lean meat if possible and dabbing the fat on it with kitchen paper before grilling.
More and more people are now using gas and electric grills where the food to be grilled does not come into direct contact with flames. However, it is not entirely clear whether these variants are beneficial in terms of health risks.
Cured and smoked food not on the rack
Barbecue enthusiasts should avoid some foods. The Federal Center for Nutrition (BZfE) writes on its website: "Cured or smoked foods should not be prepared on the wire rack."
Because “cured meat products such as Kasseler, Wiener sausages, meat sausages or liver cheese contain nitrite curing salt, which can react with the proteins in the food to form nitrosamines at high temperatures. Nitrosamines are considered carcinogenic ”.
If you want to be on the safe side, you should rely on roast or grill sausages that do not contain curing salt.
As a result of the smoking process, smoked foods normally contain organic combustion pollutants from the smoke, the content of which should not be increased any further.
Delicious vegetarian alternatives
If you prefer alternative grilling with vegetables and tofu instead of meat and sausages, you should also follow a few tips.
It is better to salt vegetables such as peppers, mushrooms or leeks after barbecuing, as otherwise they will lose too much water and become very soft.
And vegetarian meat substitutes such as tofu sausages are better not to be placed in the middle of the grill because they are more sensitive to heat. (ad)