In the U.S. grilling is one popular method of preparing food, especially meat, during the summer time. In fact, today, there is hardly a home without a grill or two. However, grilling over high open flame for too long allegedly increases the risk of cancer.
Why Grilling Might be Unsafe
According to some researchers, there may be a cancer risk related to consuming food cooked by high-heat source techniques --- such as pan-frying or grilling directly over an open flame --- for too long (especially above 300 °F). They believe that chemicals formed when amino acids (the building blocks of proteins), sugars, and creatine (a substance found in muscle meat) react at high temperatures, these chemicals then drip on the charcoal causing flare-up of flames. These flames containing these chemical then adhere to the surface of the meat.
How to Play it Safe
Based on present research findings however, eating moderate amounts of grilled meats for example, fish, meat, and poultry that are cooked to a safe temperature does not pose a problem, as long as they are not charred. Below is a list of safe internal temperatures recommended by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Whole poultry: 165 °F
Poultry breasts: 165 °F
Ground poultry: 165 °F
Ground meats: 160 °F
Beef, pork, lamb, and veal (steaks, roasts and chops): 145 °F and allow to rest at least 3 minutes.
How to Prevent Charring of Meats
To prevent charring, prior to grilling you should always remove all visible fat that can cause a flare-up of flame. You can also precook meat in a microwave, oven or on stove top immediately before placing it on the grill. Not only will this help to reduce cooking time, this approach also helps to release some of this carcinogenic chemicals formed in the inner portion of the meat that usually drop on the hot coals and cause high flames to flare-up.
Although we are still not sure as to what percentage of this carcinogenic substance ( substance formed when heat reacts with the muscle cells of meat), we have to consume before it can actually leads to cancer. It's still better to start taking all precautionary measures now--- Don't wait until it's too late! As the old saying goes, "Prevention is better than cure."