Is That Barbecue Bad For Your Health – Truth About Charcoal Grills

You are here

epicurean104's picture

Barbecuing food on charcoal barbecues may pose several health risks.


Barbecuing is probably the oldest method of cooking food, and has been practiced for thousands of years by man. 


However, recent studies have found substantial health risks associated with barbecuing food. 


No matter how delicious charcoal grilled foods can be, you should stop and think before indulging yourself, because you could be actually harming your health with every bite, even before you start eating. Both charcoal and wood burn and emit not only hydrocarbons but also tiny soot particles that pollute the air and can aggravate heart and lung problems.


According to the American Cancer Society, PAHs form when fat from meat drips onto the charcoal.  A 2003 study by scientists from Rice University found that microscopic bits of polyunsaturated fatty acids released into the atmosphere from cooking meat on backyard barbecues were helping to pollute the air in Houston. Both briquettes and lump charcoal create air pollution. Lump charcoal, made from charred wood to add flavor, also contributes to deforestation and adds to the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Some of the charcoal brands sold in the market also contain compounds like borax, coal dust, sodium nitrate, limestone and starch which get deposited on the meats that you grill. They can lead to several health complications in the long run.


Although charcoal grilled meat tastes wonderful, it also contains two carcinogenic chemical compounds due to the grilling process. These compounds are heterocyclic amines and polycyclic hydrocarbons. When you grill meat on charcoal, the fat drips on the burning fuel. When this happens, the heterocyclic amines and polycyclic hydrocarbons are formed and they get deposited on the meat along with the smoke coming out of the charcoal. 


As the meat gets charred, the polycyclic hydrocarbons can form directly on the meat. The longer the meat is cooked on the grill, the more heterocyclic amines and polycyclic hydrocarbons are formed on the meat. These chemical compounds have been linked to higher risk of getting cancers of the pancreas, colon and breast.


Consumers can avoid exposure to these potentially harmful additives by sticking with so-called natural charcoal brands. Additionally, many consumers have made the switch to gas grills over the past few decades. 


If you are one of the consumers who believe in using only real charcoal for barbecue, you can lessen your exposure to potentially harmful additives by using natural charcoal brands. Noram de Mexico’s Sierra Madre 100% Oak Hardwood Charcoal is certified by the Rainforest Alliance’s SmartWood program as being sustainably harvested. It contains no coal, oil, limestone, starch, sawdust, or petroleum. Other manufacturers of all natural charcoal include Greenlink and Lazzari, both of which can be found at natural food outlets across North America.


You can enjoy your outdoor barbecues and cookouts keeping these simple tips in mind. Exercise moderation and caution in barbecue, to live a healthier life with fewer health risks and lesser pollution. 



Pic courtesy: www.seriouseats.com

Rate This

Your rating: None
3.875
Average: 3.9 (2 votes)