Malaysians, in general, enjoy the smoky aroma and taste of satay fresh off the grill, which would be all the more painful for them to know that it could very well be bad for them!
Let’s be real. We LOVE the smell and sizzle of chicken, beef or lamb hitting those hot coals, sprinkled with oil infused with lemongrass, and the familiar char and crispiness that ensues. Unfortunately, some risks may come with this popular treat, as an article published in The Diagnosa talks about how satay may be carcinogenic.
The article written by Dr Latif Saad spoke of how grilled meats such as satay, BBQ, and many others in the same category go through the Maillard reaction when they cook via high heat (e.g. frying, roasting, baking). This converts sugars and amino acids into a compound called acrylamide, which may cause cancer.
Generally, the longer and hotter food is cooked, the more acrylamide is formed. Boiling and steaming isn’t thought to trigger acrylamide formation, while even over-burnt toast can create heaps full of it.
Acrylamide has been classified as a ‘probable human carcinogen’ by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), a ‘reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen’ by the US National Toxicology Program (NTP) and ‘likely to be carcinogenic to humans’ by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
The formation of the chemical is not attributed solely to cooked foods such as satay but is also very prevalent in cigarette smoke.
However, this doesn’t mean that you should ban satay from your life forever! The FDA merely suggests that consumers eat a balanced diet which limits foods and cooking methods, which might result in high in acrylamide levels.
Go forth and eat Satay (but in moderation).
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