What Happens When You Barbecue?

This weekend in the U.S., millions of Americans will celebrate U.S. Independence Day with barbecues.  Charcoal is popular because it can generate more heat with less smoke than wood.

What effect does that charcoal combustion have on your food?  And on the air you’re breathing?

Researchers in Turkey compared beef steaks from barbecue types (wire and stone) and cooking levels (rare, medium, well-done and very well-done).  They looked at the formation of HCAs (heterocyclic aromatic amines) and PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons), which may increase cancer risk.

Both HCA and PAH levels increased with wire BBQs and higher cooking levels.  Fortunately, all levels were below permitted or suggested maximum limits.  Equipment included Agilent cartridges for solid phase extraction.

In Asia, barbecued meats and indoor BBQ restaurants are increasingly popular.  In separate studies, researchers in Korea and China studied airborne contaminants that can pose health hazards.

The Taiwan study found that charcoal briquettes posed the highest risk, emitting the most hydrocarbons, particulates and carbonyl compounds.  The Korean study found that emission concentrations were highest in Korean and Chinese products.  Equipment in both studies included Agilent columns.

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