Adding Rosemary to Beef Decreases Cancer-Causing Agents

February 16, 2010

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CHICAGO - The addition of rosemary extract to ground beef actually reduces cancer-causing agents that can form upon cooking, according to a recent study in the Journal of Food Science, published by the Institute of Food Technologists.

Heterocyclic amines (HCAs) are mutagenic compounds that form when meat and fish are cooked at high temperatures—especially meats that are grilled, pan-fried, broiled, or barbecued. The National Toxicology Program of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services categorizes HCAs as human carcinogens that can increase the risk of certain types of cancers.

Kansas State University researchers Kanithaporn Puangsombat and J. Scott Smith investigated the idea that reducing the amount of HCAs in meat cooked at high temperatures would reduce the associated health risks. The study compared five rosemary extracts with varying concentrations of water and ethanol and their ability to inhibit HCA formation in cooked beef patties.

  • Rosemary extracts were isolated with ethanol concentrations ranging from 10 percent to 40 percent
  • The extracts were added directly onto the ground beef patties and cooked at two different temperatures: 400°F for five minutes each side and 375°F for six minutes each side.

Researchers found that all of the concentrations significantly decreased the levels of HCAs at both cooking temperatures.

  • When beef patties were cooked at 400°F for five minutes per side, the rosemary extracted at the lower ethanol concentrations were most effective in inhibiting HCA formation.
  • It should be noted that rosemary extracts prepared at these lower ethanol concentrations contain a mixture of rosmarinic acid, carnosol, and carnosic acid, and these compounds just may work together in inhibiting HCA formation. Thus, rosemary extracts may not be the same depending on what solvents are used.

To receive a copy of the study, please contact Jeannie Houchins at jhouchins@ift.org.

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The Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) is a nonprofit scientific society. Our individual members are professionals engaged in food science, food technology, and related professions in industry, academia, and government. IFT's mission is to advance the science of food, and our long-range vision is to ensure a safe and abundant food supply, contributing to healthier people everywhere. 

For more than 70 years, the IFT has been unlocking the potential of the food science community by creating a dynamic global forum where members from more than 100 countries can share, learn, and grow. We champion the use of sound science across the food value chain through the exchange of knowledge, by providing education, and by furthering the advancement of the profession. IFT has offices in Chicago, Illinois, and Washington, D.C. For more information, please visit ift.org.

© 2010 Institute of Food Technologists

FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Jeannie Houchins, MA, RD
312.604.0231
jhouchins@ift.org