Is Charred Meat A Health Risk?
Recent studies and government reports suggest that meats cooked at high temps, particularly meat charred over a live fire, can develop harmful carcinogens. But grilling season is just about here, and we want you to enjoy it to the fullest. Grilled meat is deeee-licious, and we wouldn't suggest for a moment that you stop doing it. Maybe just consider these mitigating approaches:
1. They say flipping meat often on a grill substantially lowers the risk of cancer-causing agents developing on the meat. This is kind of serendipitous, because even though for decades we've been told that the secret to great grilled steaks is to flip them only once, letting them sear fully undisturbed on both sides, the new guard of cooking experts (including Cooking Light columnist J. Kenji Lopez-Alt) advise flipping often, in part because the meat cooks and browns more evenly.
2. The National Cancer Institute advises cutting charred bits from your grilled meats and discarding them, since they presumably have the most carcinogens. I'm speaking for myself here, not on behalf of the magazine, but this is a step I'm personally not going to follow. If you feel you should, then by all means do so. But those charred bits are tasty. Those charred bits are the reason I grill meat instead of roast or saute it. And I don't eat grilled meat every day, or even every week, much as I'd like to. Because I eat so few tasty charred bits so rarely, I'm not as concerned about it affecting my overall health. Maybe I should be. I'm not much of a risk-taker, but I'm rolling the dice on this one.