The Health Risks Associated With BBQ’ing
hot sunny days, good friends, good food, what could be better? But as with somany good things in life, the naysayers will tell you that barbecues pose a number of health
So let’s take a look at them, and then investigate what you can do to lessen any risks.
When meat is cooked at high temperatures, it causes a certain chemical reaction
creatineand amino acids react together to form heterocyclic amines
it’s these that are believed to
be one of the causes of cancer, although meat that is roasted or baked in the oven (and notat really high temperatures) is likely not to contain so much in the way of heterocyclicamines. Throw in the issue of grilling over coals though, and you conjure up a whole newhealth risk, according to the June 2007 issue of the Harvard Health Letter.Apparently there are chemicals that can cause cancer in the smoke that comes off thebarbecue,and they can be absorbed by the meat you are cooking. It has been suggestedthat marinating meat can help to cut down on the presence of heterocyclic amines butopinion is divided on how effective this is.However, the Health letter does suggest some ways to cut down the risk including:
Cooking smaller pieces of meat, which will be ready more quickly and at lowertemperatures.
Cooking less fatty meat, which will cut down on the flames produced and thereforethe amount of smoke produced
Precook meat in the microwave. Research suggests that this can cut down on theheterocyclic amines by as much as 90 per cent.
Flip your meat frequently, so that neither side gets too hot or has time to absorb thesmoke.Other issues have been raised about the safety of breathing in smoke from charcoal andwood. Both of these products produce hydrocarbons as well as tiny particles of soot.
It’s not only our own health that may be at risk –
a study by scientists in Texas found thatbarbeques released minute pieces of polyunsaturated fatty acids into the air. The study wascarried out in Houston, which is ranked as one of the most polluted regions in the US.However, while BBQs may contribute to the pollution levels, they are surely small compared
with pollution caused by industry and motor vehicles.Air pollution is affected by both the burning of lump charcoal and briquettes. While lumpcharcoal is only made from charred wood, unless you can find a local source that is madefrom natural wastage, it can help to contribute towards deforestation. Briquettes on theother hand, use sawdust, which is a waste product, but may also contain borax, limestoneand sodium nitrate. And in Canada, charcoal briquettes are now labelled as a hazardousproduct.