For some, barbecue is synonymous with summer while others use it year round. Do you regularly eat grilled meats on the barbecue? Be careful since this cooking method may release potentially carcinogenic compounds. Here are tips for enjoying the barbecue while reducing the risks to your health.

Potentially carcinogenic compounds

When meat is cooked at a very high temperature and it darkens, heterocyclic amines form. If meat juice or fat falls on the barbecue briquettes, benzopyrenes are released. These two substances may increase the risk of cancer.

Bye Bye BBQ?

It is not necessary to say goodbye to the barbecue. The risk of developing cancer depends on many factors such as diet, lifestyle and genetics. Cooking meat on the barbecue is therefore a risk factor among many others.

Five tips to enjoy the barbecue safely

  1. Avoid getting fat on the barbecue briquettes:
    1. remove all visible fat from meat
    2. opt for cuts of lean meat, poultry or fish.
  2. Avoid direct contact of the meat with the flame:
    1. cook the meat on the top rack
    2. cook the meat in foil.
  3. Avoid causing a flame with the juice of the meat:
    1. use tongs or spatula to turn the meat over instead of pricking it
    2. return the meat often to reduce the amount of juice that flows.
  4. Avoid charring meat:  cook meat slowly over medium heat.
  5. Protect the surface of the meat:  marinate the meat with a mixture containing vinegar or lemon juice.

And vegetables?

Cooking vegetables on the barbecue is not carcinogenic. The reason is that carcinogens are formed with foods high in fat and protein. Perfect opportunity to try new recipes without meat on the barbecue! You can take inspiration from the recipes from Steven Raichlen's book, Vegetarian Barbecue , at Éditions de l'Homme (2013).

Cooking on the barbecue has advantages. It allows to quickly prepare succulent meals and does not require the addition of fat for cooking. Make sure to take the necessary precautions for cooking meat and you will enjoy the joys of barbecue!