March 24/Washington/States News Service -- James H. Hodges, president, American Meat Institute (AMI) Foundation, released the following statement in response to the study "Assessment of Human Exposure to Heterocyclic Amines from Cooked Meat Products":
"It has long been known that high heat cooking of protein foods can cause very low levels of compounds called heterocyclic amines (HCAs) to form. HCAs have been found in non-protein foods as well. All humans, however, are normally and unavoidably exposed to some level of HCAs in foods.
"A new study that was supported in part by the American Meat Institute Foundation and being reported by the news media found that HCAs occur at very low (parts per billion) or below detection limits, in many meat and poultry products, particularly those that are processed and ready to-eat, as well as meat and poultry that are marinated prior to cooking.
"Some concerns have been expressed about consuming too many HCAs. That is why the AMI Foundation helped fund this research to help expand knowledge about these compounds, the levels at which they occur and what steps can be taken to reduce their formation
"Processed meat and poultry products are cooked during processing at temperatures that are much lower than the high heat that can be found on a very hot grill, broiler or fry pan (typically in excess of 300 degrees Fahrenheit). At these lower temperatures, HCA formation does not usually occur. This study also confirms previous research that marinades help prevent the formation of HCAs.
"There have been some studies that have attributed various cancers to HCAs in grilled meats. Yet, theses same studies have inherent contradictions because they concluded that there is no cancer relationship with poultry or fish consumption, even though they contain equal or higher levels of HCAs when grilled.
"The National Institutes of Health is conducting studies to assess the amount of HCAs in the average American diet. At the present time, the wisest course of action anyone can take is to consume a balanced diet that includes a variety of foods consistent with the U.S. Dietary Guidelines."
From the March 24, 2011, Prepared Foods' Daily News
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