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Chemists Endorse Marinating Meat With Beer

• March 26, 2014 • 4:23 PM

(Photo: Public Domain)

It decreases the formation of carcinogenic material.

Although chemists recently spoiled the time-honored summer tradition of urinating in the pool (a new study reveals that urine and chlorine interact to yield dangerous chemicals), another team of chemists has offered a bold endorsement of the other—perhaps more satisfying—riot time practice of pouring beer all over your meat before throwing it over the flames.

A group of European scientists concludes that beer marinades are an excellent way of reducing polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), the carcinogenic stuff known to form on meat when it’s cooked on the barbecue.

Writing in the American Chemical Society’s Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, a group of European scientists concludes that beer marinades are an excellent way of reducing polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), the carcinogenic stuff known to form on meat when it’s cooked on the barbecue (“mainly, by contact of dripping fat with hot embers”). Health experts have recommended limiting exposure to PAHs because of their link to cancer in animals.

In their experiment, the researchers bought a bunch of pork loin steaks from a grocery store in Porto, Portugal, leaving some unmarinated as a control group and subjecting the others to four-hour baths in three different beers, a pilsner, a non-alcoholic pilsner, and a black beer. Then they analyzed the PAHs levels after cooking on a charcoal grill. (I’m reading between the lines, here, but it seems they had a pretty epic party with plenty of libations.) The results:

Considering an intake of 132 g of grilled pork loin (unmarinated), the uptake of 271 ng of BaP and 2057 ng of PAH8 will exceed the overall average dietary exposure of BaP (235 ng) and PAH8 (1729 ng) estimated by [European Food Safety Authority]. If grilled pork loin marinated in Black beer is consumed, the uptake of 141 ng of BaP and 1286 ng in 132 g will not exceed the overall average dietary exposure. Thus, the intake of beer-marinated meat can be a suitable mitigation strategy.

Black beer performed the best of the three, reducing the net weight of total PAHs by 53 percent. Non-alcoholic pilsner reduced the material by 25 percent, and regular pilsner performed the worst at 13 percent. The “higher antioxidant capacity” of ales versus lagers could explain the different rates. The chemists note that there was a significant drop in the black beer’s “antioxidant activity” after the marinade was finished, indicating the meat’s uptake and suggesting its increased “resistance to the formation of PAHs.”

So, go forth, and purchase multiple cases of dark ale for your drinking and marinading pleasure, knowing that at least the latter activity is endorsed by science.

Ryan Jacobs
Associate Digital Editor Ryan Jacobs joined Pacific Standard from The Atlantic, where he wrote for and produced the magazine’s Global and China channels online. Before that, he was a senior editorial fellow at Mother Jones. Follow him on Twitter @Ryanj899.

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