Effects of grilling procedures on levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in grilled meats

Food Chem. 2016 May 15:199:632-8. doi: 10.1016/j.foodchem.2015.12.017. Epub 2015 Dec 8.


Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are chemicals formed when muscle meat is cooked using high-temperature methods, such as grilling directly over an open flame. PAHs have been found to be mutagenic-that is, they cause changes in DNA that may increase the risk of cancer. We investigated the effects of grilling procedures on the level of 4 PAHs; benzo[a]anthracene (B[a]A), chrysene (Chr), benzo[b]fluoranthene (B[b]F), and benzo[a]pyrene (B[a]P). PAHs were extracted and determined by gas chromatography with mass detection (GC-MS). With regard to barbecuing successive meat samples with the same batch of burning charcoal, it was observed that stable combustion contribute to reduction of PAHs. Significant reductions in the sum of the four PAHs were observed through treatments which removed meat drippings and smoke with alternative grilling apparatus. The sums of 4 PAHs were reduced 48-89% with dripping removed and 41-74% with the smoke removal treatment in grilled pork and beef meats than conventional grilling. We investigated the components of meats drippings. The major constituent of meat dripping was fat. The most important factor contributing to the production of PAHs in grilling was smoke resulting from incomplete combustion of fat dripped onto the fire.

Keywords: Charcoal; Grilled meat; Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs); Reduction.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cattle
  • Charcoal / chemistry*
  • Cooking
  • Hot Temperature
  • Meat / analysis*
  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons / analysis
  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons / chemistry*
  • Swine


  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons
  • Charcoal