BBQ - worth the risk?

BBQ's can be responsible for many health risks: Cooking food close to the coals may increase your risk of cancer. Food poisoning is fairly common, and then there are the calories…

BBQ - a difficult dilemma

Get smart?

It's time to get smarter about barbecues – enjoying the smoky, sizzling flavours and all the trimmings without putting yourself at risk of food poisoning, heart disease, obesity or even cancer.

  • Cooking food close to the coals, in a smoky environment or for prolonged periods can create high levels of PAHs (Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons) in your food, which may increase your risk of cancer. However, there are several ways you can minimise your exposure to PAHs from the BBQ. Part-cooking food indoors will limit the amount of time any food is exposed to the smoke. Gas barbecues create fewer PAHs than charcoal or wood-chips. Marinating meat also cools the surface of the meat to stop PAHs forming.
  • In the meantime, your choice of barbecued meat will impact your health risks. Things like burgers and sausages are bad for you - if only because of the calories they add. Better switch to barbecued fish, lean beef and chicken.
  • Also be aware of undercooked meat. Children and older people and those with weakened immune systems are very vulnerable to food poisoning. Use a meat thermometer to check that it's thoroughly cooked to 73C. Burgers and sausages should be cooked to 71C. But don't let your food get overcooked (black on the outside - just how I like it!!) because that will increase your health risks.

Hope you get outside and enjoy your barbecue this summer. There are a lot of do's and don'ts, but no reason not to enjoy your summer kitchen!!!

What's your opinion about this dilemma?

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BBQ - worth the risk?