Heterocyclic amine content of pork products cooked by different methods and to varying degrees of doneness

Food Chem Toxicol. 1998 Apr;36(4):289-97. doi: 10.1016/s0278-6915(97)00159-2.


Heterocyclic amines (HCAs) are known mutagens and animal carcinogens produced in meats cooked at high temperature. As pork is the second most frequently consumed meat in the United States, five predominant HCAs [2-amino-3-methylimidazo[4,5-f]quinoline (IQ), 2-amino-3,4-dimethylimidazo[4,5-f]quinoline (MeIQ), 2-amino-3,8-dimethylimidazo[4,5-f]quinoxaline (MeIQx), 2-amino-3,4,8-trimethylimidazo[4.5-f]quinoxaline (DiMeIQx) and 2-amino-1-methyl-6-phenylimidazo[4,5-b]pyridine (PhIP)] were measured in various pork products, cooked by different techniques and to varying doneness levels. Pork chops and ham slices were pan-fried and oven-broiled; bacon was pan-fried, oven-broiled or microwaved; hot dogs were pan-fried, oven-broiled, grilled/barbecued or boiled; sausage links and patties were pan-fried. All the products were cooked to three levels of doneness: just until done, well done or very well done. HCA type and level varied substantially by pork product, cooking method and doneness level. The highest PhIP levels were found in well done and very well done oven-broiled bacon; for very well done 30.3 and 4.0 ng per gram of meat of PhIP and MeIQx, respectively. Pan-fried very well done sausage patties contained 5.4 ng of MeIQx per gram of meat, while sausage links contained 1.3 ng per gram of meat. MeIQx was formed in well done and very well done pan-fried but not broiled pork chops. Hot dogs or ham slices had low or undetectable levels of HCAs. These results demonstrate that epidemiological studies investigating the relationship between HCA intake and cancer risk need to incorporate type of meat, cooking method and degree of doneness/surface browning into questions to assess adequately an individual's HCA exposure.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Cooking*
  • Heterocyclic Compounds / analysis*
  • Meat / analysis*
  • Meat Products / analysis*
  • Swine
  • Temperature


  • Heterocyclic Compounds