A study conducted three years ago found that nearly 90% of Americans use an outdoor grill to prepare meals- at least, some of the time. Summer is the season when many enjoy casual eating outdoors, next to their barbeque grill. But, this typically American preference exposes us to many risks. It is wise to implement simple strategies to minimize those risks.
The fumes from cooking fires contain toxic levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons [PAHs]. When inhaled, these substances are known to cause DNA mutations, respiratory disease, and lung cancer. Formed when juices and fat from grilling meats drip into the fire source, producing fumes and smoke, these are the same substances found in smoked meats like bacon. Cigarettes and car exhaust also contain PAHs.
What to do? First, avoid direct exposure of meats [including poultry and fish] to flame sources by putting them on a pan or layer of foil on the barbeque grill. Prevent charring, by turning the meat frequently, avoiding those tell-tale black grill marks. Marinate meats before cooking in an acidic marinade to minimize the production of PAHs. Finally, do not inhale smoke wafting from the grill.
Remember to fill half of your dinner plate with vegetables, and divide the other half equally between the starch and protein portions. Have barbequed meats occasionally, removing any charred portions. Following these safety suggestions should lower the risks of the American barbeque tradition, helping you and your family to continue the practice of mindful eating.
Dateline: Latham, Albany County, New York