Rosemary may stop carcinogen formation in cooked beef

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Rosemary extracts, Food science, Nutrition

Extracts from rosemary may prevent the formation of mutagenic compounds formed during cooking meat at high temperature, says a new American study.

Levels of mutagenic and carcinogenic compounds called heterocyclic amines were decreased by up to 92 per cent when rosemary extracts were added to beef patties prior to high temperature cooking, according to findings published in the Journal of Food Science​.

“The data obtained in this study suggest that the addition of rosemary extracts is an important factor in decreasing carcinogenic compounds in cooked beef patties,”​ wrote Kanithaporn Puangsombat and J. Scott Smith from the Food Science Institute at Kansas State University.

“The use of rosemary extracts, which have less volatile compounds than natural rosemary, provides the additional advantage of not affecting the flavor or odor of meat products,”​ they added.

The study adds to the reputation of rosemary as natural alternatives to chemical preservatives in a range of food applications, particularly meat and meat products.

Consumers are increasingly wary of E-numbers and chemical-sounding ingredients lists. A recent study of Mintel’s Global New Product Database found that 36 per cent of all food and beverage products launched in the UK in 2008 made ‘natural’ claims, including ‘‘no additives/preservatives’, ‘organic’, and ‘wholegrain’.

On a global basis, 23 per cent of products launched in 2008 made ‘natural’ claims.

Study details

Puangsombat and Smith used rosemary extracts obtained from Japan’s Mitsubishi-Kagaku Foods Corp and tested them in beef patties cooked at 191 °C (375 °F) for and 204 °C (400 °F).

Results showed that levels of heterocyclic amines such as 2-amino-3,8-dimethylimidazo [4,5- f ] quinoxaline (MeIQx), and 2-amino-1-methyl-6-phenylimidazo [4,5-b]pyridine (PhIP) were reduced by up to 92 and 85 per cent, respectively when the beef patties were formulated with a 40 per cent ethanol extract of rosemary and cooked at high temperature.

The researchers note that the inhibiting effect of rosemary extracts on heterocyclic amines formation was related to the antioxidant activity of the rosemary extract.

“A synergistic antioxidant effect between phenolic compounds in rosemary may play an important role in heterocyclic amines inhibition,”​ concluded the researchers.

Source: Journal of Food Science
Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.1111/j.1750-3841.2009.01491.x
“Inhibition of Heterocyclic Amine Formation in Beef Patties by Ethanolic Extracts of Rosemary”
Authors: K. Puangsombat, J.S. Smith

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