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Health concerns with charcoal use

edited 10:26PM in EggHead Forum
I am considering the purchase of an egg for my husband. I am concerned about cooking with charcoal, as I am a 5 year cancer survivor and I am not sure of the safety of the "smoke" from charcoal as compared with propanr grilling. Can anyone give me some information regarding this matter. I realize that the charcoal amts used are less than regular charcoal use with the egg. Thanks in advance!


  • Nature BoyNature Boy Posts: 8,522
    Very happy to hear that you are surviving that scary disease! As far as i know, and this information has been discussed before on this forum, the possible dangers come from charred meats that are cooked over high heat, and from meat fat drippings that burn. Gas grills are equally capable of producing those scenarios..[p]Have not heard of any risks associated with smoke from charcoal, Many things can be cooked successfully (and even phenomenally) with an indirect setup...providing a barrier between the direct coals. This elemnates both the high temp char risk as well as the fat drippings burning risk.[p]Just some thoughts. MikeO had some interesting facts he posted last time this question was asked. You might check the archives.[p]cheers! and welcome.
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  • Mike OelrichMike Oelrich Posts: 544
    Nature Boy,[p] Dang, the archives are off again. Wish I could remember what I wrote! You've got the basic idea right. There have been some studies that claim to show a correlation (NOTE: A CORRELATION IS NOT THE SAME AS A PROVEN CAUSITIVE RELATIONSHIP!) between chemicals called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and heterocyclic amines (HCAs), and breast cancer. Both of these chemicals are created when you char meats (and, if memory serves, vegetables too -- but to a lesser extent). The PAHs are created from the carbon in the muscle tissue, the HCAs are formed from a reaction between creatine and amino acids at high temperatures. This means that there are HCAs and PAHs in the charred crust of food cooked at high temperatures and in the smoke that the grease makes when it drops onto hot coals or hot gas grill elements. So, it is not the charcoal or the gas causing the problem (though I will be the first to admit that you shouldn't cook over charcoal briquettes still soaked in lighter fluid!), it is the searing of the food. Many sources are now recommending that people not sear food often, and if you are going to sear something, to precook it first in the microwave or over lower heat, then scrape off the charred part after finishing it off at high heat. Interestingly, there are other studies out now that seem to show that marinating the meat first may help reduce the formation of PAHs and HCAs. I will leave it to the individual to decide what to do with their own eating habits and would encourage them to make sure to research all arguments before deciding on what to do . . .[p]MikeO
  • Char-WoodyChar-Woody Posts: 2,642
    MikeO, no need to dig into the archive's..this fresh one has the ring of nicely cast brass bell to it...:-)
    Nice post! Well written and to the point.

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