Processing of Foods
Grilled foods are common among Filipinos, especially when they have an outing or a backyard party. In summer or at New Year’s, you can see them partying on the beach. They celebrate family reunions, birthday parties, business meetings and new acquaintances. They bring along with them ready-to-eat foods and both hard and soft drinks. Aside from those foods, they also buy fresh fishes from roadside vendors to add to their viands for lunch. They just put them direct on the grill over hot coals, until those fishes are cooked.
A group of friends, business associates or visiting relatives occasionally hold an impromptu party in the host’s backyard. They enjoy a bit of a drinking spree. Their gathering is full of fun and enjoyment, with all the foods to satisfy their tummy. Everyone gives his share to the party – like a case of beer, a salad, two or three long-necked bottles of wine or brandy. The host has also something to offer to his invited guests. It’s common for the host to marinate a whole dressed chicken, ready to roast on the fire. It seems that a party is not complete without grilled chicken.
Every year where I live in the Philippines, we celebrate the Patron Saint Vicente Ferrer’s day. Our close friends and relatives visit us and join us in this festivity of Saint Ferrer. Our fiesta celebration is not complete with a léchon, a suckling pig roasted over an open fire, or a barbecue of chopped pork meat. Lechon is identified as the essence of every celebration or festival in the Philippines. Without it, the merry-making seems insufficient.
Cancer-Producing Food Process
The parties are great, but foods which are cooked over the glowing charcoal or open fire are the possible sources of cancer-causing compounds. Fish, for example, is placed on top of the grill and left to cook for several minutes. When it is unattended, the scales of the fish are burnt. People never mind the burnt scales; they just eat them. Dressed chicken is also cooked over glowing charcoals for several minutes and the dark grill marks on its body, wings, or drumsticks pose a health hazard to the human body.
Pork meat or the whole suckling pig can be roasted for several minutes or hours at high temperatures before it is ready to be served. During the roasting process, fat drips onto the live charcoals and causes flames to flare up, touching the meat directly. The fire, smoke and high temperatures can all create dangerous chemicals which are linked to cancer in humans. These carcinogenic compounds, like heterocyclic amines (HCA) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), are generated from the burnt part of the foods grilled and the smoke that it emits from a drip meat juice. Dr Joel Fuhrman has more to say on these effects of cancer-causing compounds in his article, “How to Reduce the Health Hazards of Grilling Your Food.”
Grilled meat is associated with celebrations and a vigorous, vibrant life here in the Philippines. But it is time that we recognize the risks associated with our preferred manner of cooking the foods we love, Grilling is associated with cancer-causing compounds, so maybe we need to rethink the way we cook our meat. If we want a life free of sickness like cancer, it is better to eat what is safe for our body than to risk acquiring a deadly disease because of our ignorance and complacency. I will look for healthier ways to cook foods for my family. Will you?
© 12 August 2016 – Gil Camporazo, Philippines.
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