It’s summertime and that means it’s time to break out your gas or charcoal grill and get to grilling. According to the Hearth, Patio and Barbecue Association, over 80% of all U.S. households own a grill, with almost half of those people grilling at least 1-2 times per week during the summer months. This summer, I want you to be safe and enjoy your grilling experiences.
Grilling is a delicious way to prepare your meals, and cooking outside keeps you from heating up the house by turning on the stove or oven. There are a couple of dangers associated with grilling that you might not know about! They are not enough to save you from grilling, but it’s important to be aware of them.
Risk #1: Smoke
Fat from cooking meat drips to the coal and generates airborne PAHs, which then you inhale. The drippings often develop on the bottom of the grill, raising the amount of smoke that forms. Be sure to keep your grill’s drip pan clean to stop not only smoke, but also inadvertent fires which may spring up if these fats catch fire!
Risk #2: Char
A lot of people love a nicely charred steak. It not only makes your grilled food look more appetizing, it makes food tastier. HCAs form when meat and high heat are combined to make a blackened crust. The more char your food has, the more carcinogens. Although the research testing was done on laboratory animals exposed both to PAH and HCA, studies do show that eating charred meats may be associated with increased risk of certain types of cancer.
Here’s the good news: There are steps you can take to reduce the probability of HCA and PAH formation so that you can still enjoy the grilling season to its full potential.
• Clean your grill: Make sure after every use, you clean your grill and remove the extra food that remains.
• Reduce the fat: Trimming the excess fat from meats is very important to your health and choosing lean meats is greatest.
• Herbs the term: Using herbs such as basil, mint, rosemary, thyme, oregano, and sage on your marinades greatly reduces the growth of HCA and PAH. The antioxidants found in these herbs also work to prevent free radicals from developing when your meat hits the warmth.
• Be fearful of flare-ups: Prevent flare-ups since they often cause more smoke and burn food. The burnt food can usually be seen as black bits that look like charcoal. Be sure to remove these pieces from your food before eating.
• Marinate your meats: Using marinades that are based with olive oil, citrus juices and ginger can help decrease the formation of HCA and PAH. It is very likely that the marinades act as a”barrier”, keeping flames from directly touching the meat.