Grilled Meat + Oregano = Reduced Cancer, Foodborne Disease Risks

Into the frying pan: Sadhana Ravishankar checks the temperature of a ground beef patty on an electrical skillet during a lab test of carvracrol. Photo by Beatriz Verdugo/UANews
Into the frying pan: Sadhana Ravishankar checks the temperature of a ground beef patty on an electrical skillet during a lab test of carvracrol. Photo by Beatriz Verdugo/UANews

Adding oregano to meat before grilling could reduce the formation of potentially cancer-causing compounds by up to 78 percent, University of Arizona researchers have found. The spice also helps inactivate harmful E. coli O157:H7 in the meat.
Research conducted by UA microbiologist Sadhana Ravishankar has shown that a compound in oregano reduces the formation of heterocyclic amines, the potentially cancer-causing culprits that can form in grilled meat.
"We are preventing the formation of potentially carcinogenic compounds in the grilled meat itself, so people can eat safer grilled meat," said Ravishankar, an assistant professor in the UA's department of veterinary science and microbiology in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
Her study was published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.
Heterocyclic amines form in grilled, charbroiled or fried meat in two essential steps. First, a raw juicy hamburger is slapped on the grill. As the meat heats up, amino acids and glucose in the meat react with each other to create molecules known as intermediates. Next, these intermediates react with creatinine, a molecule that is present in muscle. The result is heterocyclic amines.
Once the nice and crispy hamburger is eaten, the heterocyclic amines potentially could lead to cell malfunction. Several epidemiological studies have shown a possible correlation between the consumption of well-done meats and different types of cancers in humans.

Date released: 
Dec 23 2010
Contact: 
Sadhana Ravishankar