Heterocyclic amine content in fast-food meat products

Food Chem Toxicol. 1995 Jul;33(7):545-51. doi: 10.1016/0278-6915(95)00025-w.


Heterocyclic aromatic amines are sometimes formed during the cooking of muscle meats, and their mutagenic and carcinogenic effects are of potential concern in the aetiology of human cancer. In a large survey of the heterocyclic amine content of foods, fried or charbroiled hamburgers, fried chicken, chicken breast sandwiches, fish sandwiches and breakfast sausages were purchased from fast-food restaurants. At least three different chains were visited per product and samples from five stores from each chain were pooled. The solid-phase extraction and HPLC method was used to analyse pooled samples for heterocyclic amine content and mutagenic activity with the Ames/Salmonella assay. Samples were analysed in a blind study which also contained quality control samples of two types, one high and one low in heterocyclic amine content and mutagenic activity. Results from the fast-food products showed undetectable levels of heterocyclic amines in 10 of 17 samples and only low levels [< or = 1 ng/g total of 2-amino-3,8-dimethylimidazo[4,5-f]quinoxaline (MeIQx), 2-amino-1-methyl-6-phenylimidazo[4,5-b]pyridine (PhIP) and 2-amino-3,4,8-trimethylimidazo[4,5-f]quinoxaline (DiMeIQx)] in the remaining samples. Compared with literature values based primarily on laboratory and home cooking conditions, fast-food meat products appear to contribute only a small percentage of the estimated daily dietary intake of heterocyclic amines.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Amines / analysis
  • Amines / metabolism*
  • Amines / toxicity
  • Carcinogens / metabolism*
  • Carcinogens / toxicity
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Food Analysis
  • Food Contamination
  • Heterocyclic Compounds / analysis
  • Heterocyclic Compounds / metabolism*
  • Heterocyclic Compounds / toxicity
  • Imidazoles / metabolism
  • Imidazoles / toxicity
  • Maryland
  • Meat Products / adverse effects*
  • Meat Products / analysis
  • Mutagenicity Tests
  • Mutagens / metabolism*
  • Mutagens / toxicity
  • Quinoxalines / metabolism
  • Quinoxalines / toxicity
  • Reference Standards


  • Amines
  • Carcinogens
  • Heterocyclic Compounds
  • Imidazoles
  • Mutagens
  • Quinoxalines
  • 2-amino-3,8-dimethylimidazo(4,5-f)quinoxaline
  • 2-amino-1-methyl-6-phenylimidazo(4,5-b)pyridine
  • 3,4,8-trimethylimidazo(4,5-f)quinoxalin-2-amine