A Answers (6)
Grilled food is safe to eat if it has been heated high enough to kill any bacteria that may be on it. The best way to make sure meat is grilled to a safe temperature is to use a meat thermometer. Cook all raw beef, pork, lamb and veal steaks, chops, and roasts to a minimum internal temperature of 145° F as measured with a food thermometer before removing meat from the heat source. For safety and quality, allow meat to rest for at least three minutes before carving or consuming. Cook all raw ground beef, pork, lamb, and veal to an internal temperature of 160° F. Cook all poultry to a safe minimum internal temperature of 165° F. Meat such as hamburgers can turn brown before they reach the safe temperature, so just cutting the meat in the middle and looking at it is not a reliable method.
Grilled food is safe to eat once it has been cooked to a safe internal temperature. Don’t rely on 20:20 vision. The only way to tell if the meat is done is to use a thermometer. It is also important to keep moist disposable towelettes near the grill as a reminder to the grillmaster to clean his/her hands before touching the food. Wash the platter and utensils that touched the raw meat before using them again on the cooked meat. And, use a separate marinade if you plan on coating the meat again during grilling.
Go to this page for more information on safe grilling temperatures: http://bit.ly/KHhM1R
Alan Gaby, Nutrition & Dietetics, answered
I do not recommend frequent consumption of grilled foods, particularly animal foods. Grilling and other forms of high-temperature cooking of meats causes the production of chemicals known as advanced glycation end products (AGEs). These compounds are absorbed intact and persist in the tissues. AGEs appear to promote inflammation and to contribute to the development of cardiovascular disease, complications of diabetes (such as nerve, eye, and kidney damage), and chronic renal failure. In addition, high-temperature cooking of animal foods results in the formation of cancer-causing chemicals such as heterocyclic amines and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. The safest methods of cooking appear to be boiling and poaching, because of the relatively low temperature and because moisture protects against the formation of some of the undesirable chemicals. These points are discussed further in my textbook, Nutritional Medicine (www.doctorgaby.com).
While grilling is an incredibly lean way to cook, it can produce carcinogens (cancer-causing substances). However, use cooking techniques that reduce carcinogens and you should be able to enjoy grilled food about twice a week. First, a little background on the dangerous compounds produced by grilling: Heterocyclic amines (HCAs). Combine muscle meat with intense heat and you'll get a chemical reaction that results in the production of these compounds. (They're not just found in barbecued meats, though. Pan-frying, electric grilling or broiling can also produce HCAs.)
So steer clear of blackened and charred meats. Or, opt for plant-based foods, such as vegetables or tofu; they contain these chemicals. Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs).You'll find these compounds in barbecue smoke. So, anything that makes the grill smokier - like fat that drips from the food and hits the coals or flame - produces even more PAHs. Then, the chemical-laden smoke gets absorbed by your food. Unfortunately, these are equal-opportunity chemicals, affecting meats, veggies, and bread But don't hang up your spatula just yet.
You can minimize your risk by:
Marinating: Scientists from Lawrence Livermore Labs in Livermore, California, got rid of 95 percent of HCAs in poultry by marinating it. The theory: marinade cools down the meat. Any oil-and-vinegar marinade should be protective.
Flipping: Other Livermore Labs research found Flipping: Other Livermore Labs research found that turning burgers every minute reduced HCA formation by up to 99 percent compared to burgers that were flipped every five minutes.
Microwaving: Zapping meat to a half-cooked state before grilling removes some of the substances that react to heat and greatly reduces the chances of creating HCAs.
Cooking on the cooler part of the grill or where food won't drip directly on the heat source: If your propane or gas grill has a "dual burner," turn one burner off and cook on the other side.
Buying lower fat meats, chicken and fish: This reduces the amount of fat that drips onto the grill and the amount of PAH.
Regulating temperature: The heat should be high enough to cook food thoroughly, but low enough to prevent charring.
Dousing: Use a squirt bottle to douse flames that get too high.
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According to the USDA, studies suggest a link between cancer and charred meats and fish. Charring can occur as a result of high temperature cooking methods, such as grilling, frying and broiling.
Here are some tips to prevent your meats from charring:
- Remove fatty areas
- Pre-cook meat in the microwave immediately before placing it on the grill
- Make sure the coals of the grill are not directly below the meat
- Avoid grilling meats until they are well done or burned
Ashley Koff, RD, Nutrition & Dietetics, answeredYes, but blackening should be avoided. Also note that the greatest risk is associated with animal products, like meats, when they are grilled and blackened. You can cook them first and finish them on the grill or opt for veggies on the grill!