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how meat preparation can affect your health

preparing your beef

It is possible that the way meat is prepared has an effect on your health.


The reason for this is that carcinogens can form when meat is overcooked. A carcinogen is an agent directly involved in causing cancer. Therefore, it is important to use gentler cooking methods, which means using less excessive heat and methods like boiling the meat, as well as to cut away any burnt or charred pieces.


what are they?

Two types of carcinogens can be formed when cooking meat. Heterocyclic amines (HCAs) are formed when amino acids react at very high temperatures. Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are formed when the fat and juices from meat that's been grilled directly over an open flame drip onto the fire. The flames then contain PAHs that adhere to the surface of the meat. The PAHs can also form during other preparation processes such as when meat is being smoked. HCAs are not present in significant quantities in any food other than prepared meat that was cooked at excessive temperatures. PAHs can be found in any charred foods.

adapt your habits

how to avoid these carcinogens

As South Africans, we love to braai but there are some things you can do differently in order to avoid ingesting unnecessary carcinogens. When exposing meat to an open flame like with braaing, avoid using excessive amounts of marinade or sauce as the burnt drippings can send carcinogens into the air and stick to the meat. Avoid cooking meat at extreme heat for a prolonged time. While a microwave oven can be used to cook meat prior to exposure to high temperatures, it is not recommended as it can negatively affect the quality of the meat. Rather, turn meat that is on a high heat over regularly, instead of leaving the meat on one side for a prolonged time. Lastly, remove charred portions of meat and don't repurpose meat drippings to make gravy.