Barbecue: What are the health risks?

Raging-fire-from-charcoal-barbecue-grillI love occasional barbecue, I feel it’s the greatest food man has ever made. And since I like it so much I know a lot more about it. Recently a friend of mine asked me about the health effects of barbecue. He must’ve heard about those Cancer myths. Thus, I’ve decided to write this as my first post on my new blog.

The real danger with a barbecue grill is severe burn (Read: First Aid for Summer Barbecue if in distress). The other fears people talk about are baseless. If you make your barbecue in limit and follow the rules, then you should be okay.

Barbecue and Cancer

Is Barbecue Carcinogenic?

The barbecue is often accused of being carcinogenic, because of the possible ingredient – benzopyrene, whose carcinogenic effects are known. There is a chance when your food is heated to a very high temperature, especially in a fire, it burns fat and leaves the surface of food with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), including benzopyrene.

However, the recent studies have shown that the amounts of benzopyrene are zero in a greasy undercooked meat using an electric barbecue. And a small amount of benzopyrene has been found in very oily meat cooked on a coal grill using unpurified woods.

Thus, we can say that barbecues are not carcinogenic.

Besides, only meat and fish are covered by fat. Vegetables and fruits grilled have no harmful effect on health.

A Popular Weber Grill Model.
A Popular Weber Grill Model.

Tips for a healthy use of barbecue

Some precautions and recommendations for limiting exposure to oil caused by cooking fats barbecue:

  • Prefer a vertical barbecue, which discharges its fat next to the fireplace, or a lava stone grill, which provides nice cover.
  • Use only charcoal purified wood.
  • Place the rack at least 10 cm above the coals.
  • Don’t directly cook on coals as well as fire.
  • If you use a fire starter, do not start cooking until it is 100% consumed, and do not raise your fire with a fire starter during cooking.
  • Use a good grill model – you should always use best gas grills out there in the market.
  • Systematically clean the grills and grease collection trays after each use.
  • Avoid fatty meats cooking with wood or charcoal.
  • Prefer low fat meats.
  • Do not make your barbecuing every day.

Are barbecue fumes toxic?

Contrary to popular belief, charcoal grills are not more dangerous to health than using gas or electricity. The fumes emitted indeed contain toxins (dioxin), but at tiny doses.

Barbecue and diet?

Barbecuing is not bad for the health since the fats are removed during the firing.

The trick is not to abuse it and do not eat chips and other high-calorie products along with it, but to focus on vegetables, salads and fruit accompaniment.

What are the main risks barbecues for health?

In reality, the greatest threat, by far, is burning and fire!

It is essential to avoid the use of alcohol-burning or gas for lighting a barbecue. Their flammable vapors can create explosions and major burns even at a distance.

You should also pay attention to the embers. They remain hot for several hours after cooking. You must, therefore, monitor children during food preparation, and also after.

Attention to the barbecue environment: do not leave anything flammable nearby, and store your firelighters, matches, and newsprint when the barbecue is on.


There is no direct effect of barbecue grills on health, science has shown this time and time again. But, you also need to a little common sense while preparing the grill. While purchasing a new grill machine make sure you read reviews and make a proper decision. If you do that, then there is 90% chance that you’re going to safe without any issues with anything at all.

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