RICHMOND, Va. — Firing up the grill is a big part of summertime fun, but there’s something you need to know before you grill your favorite foods.
Research suggests foods like chicken, fish, and red meats directly cooked on a high-temperature grill ---more than 300 degrees Fahrenheit---can cause cancerous carcinogen chemicals to form.
“I've known it for a while, but I think a lot of people are unaware," Samantha Haswell, MS, RD, a registered dietitian with VCU Massey Cancer Center, said. “Those polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are present in flames naturally. So, when you are cooking meats, those compounds can actually get onto your meat and cause carcinogen compounds in your food.”
The biggest risk is ingesting those foods.
But Haswell said there were some things you can do before grilling to reduce your risk.
“Marinating [your food] for at least 30 to 40 minutes before you place it on the grill. A little protective coating. In some studies, there have been especially with chicken it can lower the risk of those compounds by 90 percent," Haswell said.
Another way to protect your food from cancerous chemicals is to preheat the meat.
“If you stick any of your meats in the microwave for about two minutes before you throw it on the grill, you already cooked most of it which is a lot less grilling time,” Haswell said.
Another tip, wrap the food in foil.
“Keeps that flame from directly touching that meat,” Haswell said.
Finally, don't reuse the same oils.
“Once you let that oil cool down, it's done. Don't touch it anymore. Go ahead and pour some new oils so you don't have those compounds forming,” Haswell said
As for grilling fruits and veggies, they're okay to put directly onto a hot grill.
“I’m not going to tell anyone you could never have a steak on the grill again. It's not that you can't have it. Just take steps to reduce your risk,” Haswell said.
EAT IT, VIRGINIA restaurant news and interviews