Is burnt food like toast or barbecue cancerous? Do I have to throw it away?

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It happens quickly – the toast is burnt, and the chop on the grill already doesn’t look like it should. Burnt, fried too crispy or downright burned, it tastes to no one. What to do, and why is it possibly harmful to eat a burnt chop?

Why grilled food turns black
Whether you have a nice steak on the grill or a chop in the pan, they have one thing in common: If the temperature is too high and you leave them too long, both will burn. Searing or braising at high temperatures is the common way to get a nice crispy piece of meat. However, it would be best if you only did this under “supervision” and constant turning of the grilled or roasted food.

If it does happen, either because you were distracted or forgot to lower the temperature at the stove, you should not eat burned parts. It is better to cut off the burnt pieces generously. If you can’t save anything, throw the meat in the trash. But why does burnt food turn black in the first place? It’s simple – chemical and physical processes create carbons when it burns. These carbons do not reflect in the light and appear jet black to us as observers.

The carbon in and of itself is not harmful.
If only the carbons were formed, you could still eat the burned meat or vegetables without hesitation after removing the burned areas. Unfortunately, other chemical substances are formed the longer the food remains on fire. Among them are “hydrocarbons,” as well as “acrylamide” and “heterocyclic amines.”

The most dangerous is nitrosamine, which is often mentioned. It gets even worse if the food, in general, has already been treated with nitrosamines (E250). If you do not pay attention to it, you have very often such treated fried sausages or neck steaks in a pan or on the grill. This substance can be responsible for cancer if consumed in excess.

So what to do? Cut it off or throw it away?
Strictly speaking, it “only” depends on two things: How long did the food continue to be braised despite being burned, and was it already treated with E250? You can rub or marinate an unmarinated piece of meat from the butcher well with herbs, healthy spices, and oils. This will somewhat eliminate the dangerous chemical reactions in case of burning, and you can still save the chop or vegetable, i.e. eat it after you have generously cut off the charred parts. All food is “treated” with E250; if it shows burnt areas, you rigorously throw it completely in the garbage can.

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