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 May 13, 2005
Grilled Meat Byproducts Cause Cancer, HHS Says
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With the backyard barbeque season in full swing nationwide, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has added chemical compounds formed when meat, fish or poultry are grilled to its official list of cancer-causing substances, The New York Times reported Tuesday.

The compounds are called heterocyclic amines. They're primarily formed when meat and other foods are cooked at high temperatures and exposed to flame flare-ups. At least one other group of chemicals, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, which also collect on meat cooked over hot coals, has been on the agency's list since 1981, the Times said.

If there's a silver lining, it's that covering the grill grate with tin foil and avoiding charred food may help lessen risks, the newspaper said. Experts also suggest microwaving the food in advance, reducing the time it spends on the grill. Finally, marinating the food has proven beneficial, probably because the liquid prevents the food from burning.


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