People all over Taiwan may be starting to break out their barbecue grills for today's Mid-Autumn Festival, but more and more research is showing that burnt meat can cause cancer, and gasses released during grilling can contain the toxic chemical dioxin.
Lee Ching-jung (林青蓉), a nutritionist at Taipei Medical University, said people should steam or bake their food beforehand to reduce the amount of grilling time.
Cutting thinner pieces of meat and slicing small openings in sausages can reduce grilling time as well, she said.
Different kinds of food should not be put on the same skewer to avoid burning some items while trying to grill slower-cooking ones she said, adding that foods should be kept at least 15cm above the charcoal and grilled slowly over a low heat to keep from becoming burned.
Sprinkling cooked meat with lemon juice or other fruits and vegetables high in vitamin C can prevent the formation of some cancer-causing chemicals, she said.
A sheet of tinfoil placed over the grill will prevent potentially cancer-causing chemicals from contaminating the meat, Lee said.
Research has shown that grilling for two hours releases as much dioxin into the air as 22 cigarettes. As a result, nutritionists recommend not cooking on a grill for more than one hour at a time.