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Wellbas Grill - Is it Barbeque Hell?


maher
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it seems some bright light has decided to target people who are so worried about everything they cant even enjoy a burger.

As i understand it, these people make a barbeque grill that circulates COLD WATER inside the grill bars to make sure you dont get a single bit of carcinogenic char (or flavor) in your food.

http://gizmodo.com/5016463/water+cooled-gr...t-from-charring

its a sad sad day when people take a simple, wholesome, family activity like a backyard barbeque, and eviserate it of any form of flavor in the interest of safety.

why not just boil your burgers instead? or better yet, dont eat ground beef, e coli and all that... just have the lettuce and tomato on a bun.... wait, isnt there a salmonella scare in tomatoes? scrap the tomato.. whit bread is bad for you too, and those condiments are full of preservatives and sugar. next time you have a backyard barbeque, just pass around some lettuce leaves, that way you can be sure your guests are safe.

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Background: Incomplete combustion creates polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), a family of chemicals that includes benzo[a]pyrene (BaP). PAHs are clearly associated with carcinogenic effects in experimental animals. Effects in humans are less clear, in part because one cannot ethically experiment on humans with suspected carcinogens.

Smoking and proximity to urban automobile traffic are major sources of PAH exposure in humans. Other sources of PAH exposure include off-road diesel engines, burning wood, industrial combustion, and volcanoes. With so many man-made and natural sources, PAHs are ubiquitous in the environment and low-level exposures are unavoidable.

Now to your question:

What's the evidence on the carcinogenic aspects of char anyway? I, for one, am willing to risk my health for the taste.

Some quick Googling turned up a few articles:

Animal studies have shown that dietary intake of benzo[a]pyrene (BaP), a polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH), causes increased levels of tumors at several sites, particularly in the upper gastrointestinal tract. However, the role of dietary intake of BaP and cancer in humans is not clear.

Grilling fatty meat, especially grilling to well-done (*shudder*), caused a higher concentration of PAHs in food. Based in this research, I vow not to grill steaks to well-done. :wink:

The highest levels of BaP (up to about 4 ng BaP/g of cooked meat) were found in grilled/barbecued very well done steaks and hamburgers and in grilled/barbecued well done chicken with skin. BaP concentrations were lower in meats that were grilled/barbecued to medium done and in all broiled or pan-fried meat samples regardless of doneness level. The BaP levels in non-meat items were generally low.

(1) Analysis of 200 food items for benzo[a]pyrene and estimation of its intake in an epidemiological study. Food Chem. Toxicol. 2001 May; 39(5): 423-36.

(2) Estimating Exposure to Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons: A Comparison of Survey, Biological Monitoring, and Geographic Information System-Based Methods. Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention: Vol. 15, 1376-1381, July 2006.

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The highest levels of BaP (up to about 4 ng BaP/g of cooked meat) were found in grilled/barbecued very well done steaks and hamburgers and in grilled/barbecued well done chicken with skin. BaP concentrations were lower in meats that were grilled/barbecued to medium done and in all broiled or pan-fried meat samples regardless of doneness level. The BaP levels in non-meat items were generally low.

Does this mean that we can justify overturning some of that stupid laws that require burgers 160° on the grounds that it creates carcinogens? Certainly sounds like a great approach to me!

Actually, isn't the greatest portion of BaP's created by the combustion process not by the contact of the food to the grate? If this is true then the water cooled grate would have no affect on the level of carcinogens. Also, the claim of the meat being juicier sounds wrong since searing the outside of the meat is what keeps the juices in.

Edited by MSRadell (log)

I've learned that artificial intelligence is no match for natural stupidity.

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Does this mean that we can justify overturning some of that stupid laws that require burgers 160° on the grounds that it creates carcinogens?  Certainly sounds like a great approach to me!

Nah, the law-makers could respond by requiring restaurants to broil or pan-fry burgers to shoe leather, avoiding E. coli and PAHs. Veggie burgers would be even safer, of course. :raz:

Life is full of trade-offs. Burgers don't do much for me, so I don't have a "steak" in this battle, so to speak.

Edited by C. sapidus (log)
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Burgers don't do much for me, so I don't have a "steak" in this battle, so to speak.

I enjoy burgers I made myself but it's hard to find a restaurant that cooks them to my liking because of state regulations. I can find Steak Tartar but not a medium-rare burger which makes no sense. Of course I do truly enjoy a a nice medium-rare steak too.

I've learned that artificial intelligence is no match for natural stupidity.

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Besides all the other reasons why I would never buy this... Am I incorrect, or wouldn't things stick easily to the grill plates? Wouldn't the water-cooled grates never get quite hot enough to sear the meat so things come off easily? I can't really figure out how cool the grill plates are going to be to keep from charring, so maybe this is an illegitimate concern. However, something about this whole thing seems so counterintuitive.

In my opinion, there's only so far I can go to eliminate my exposure to (possible) carcinogens, because frankly, I will never completely eliminate them from my surroundings. I try to balance it out, and avoid them as much as I can, so that when something like a tasty piece of grilled meat comes around, I won't feel bad about it. There are just some things I cannot sacrifice!

Besides... as one or two people pointed out in the comments on Gizmodo, if you want to avoid charring, you could be a little more careful... It might not fool-proof, but you'll keep the money you'd be spending on this thing (both the purchase and operation).

Edited by feedmec00kies (log)

"I know it's the bugs, that's what cheese is. Gone off milk with bugs and mould - that's why it tastes so good. Cows and bugs together have a good deal going down."

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Also, the claim of the meat being juicier sounds wrong since searing the outside of the meat is what keeps the juices in.

This sounds like an absurd product, but probably not for this reason. This appears to be an old wives' tale according to Harold McGee.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

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- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

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Twitter - @docsconz

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Leaving aside carcinogens, it's hardly ridiculous to want to avoid charring your food. What makes grilled food taste good is the browning, from the Maillard reaction. Charring comes from overheating the food (from exposing it to open flame, etc.), and it doesn't taste so good: a little bit is fine, sure, but who wants a carbonized burger? A technological fix to prevent charring sounds reasonable enough-- though I'd rather buy a less expensive grill and rely on technique instead.

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Interesting enougth one of the the original studies was conceived by FEMA who initially went after belt-way restaurants around the DC area. They then passed it on to the Livermore National Labratory. This is a talk from one of the researchers who worked on the project. It's a pretty easy read.

Edited by marinade (log)

Jim Tarantino

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