It’s barbecue season, and most of us love the taste of food that’s grilled outdoors. There’s one drawback: charring meat over an open flame produces carcinogens that may be harmful. Some of the carcinogens can be found in deeply charred bits, others are formed when juices from meat drip onto coals or other hot surfaces and create smoke. Not to worry – the experts say taking a few precautions while barbecuing will minimize health risks.
Cleaning the grill prior to cooking will remove any charred debris that may stick to food. And cut off any pieces of food that are really burned.
In addition, precooking food slightly before grilling will help. The American Cancer Society recommends placing meat in the microwave for 60 to 90 seconds. This reduces the amount of time the food is on the grill and allows some of the juices to drain beforehand.
Marinades made with vinegar or lemon act as an “invisible shield” that changes the acidity of the meat and prevent carcinogens from sticking. On the other hand, sugary marinades such as barbecue sauce that encourage charring should be used only during the last one to two minutes on the grill.
And whenever possible grill vegetables or fruits instead of meat. They don’t create carcinogens.