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Beer and red wine marinade may cut cancer risk from beef

By Stephen Daniells , 12-Jan-2009

Marinating beef in red wine or beer may reduce the levels of potentially cancer-promoting compounds, according to a study from Portugal.

According to researchers from the University of Porto, the beer or red wine marinade reduced levels of heterocyclic amines by up to 88 per cent. Heterocyclic amines, formed during the frying or grilling of fish and meat, are reported to promote carcinogenesis in humans.

In addition, the beer marinade was found to produce a final product with the “usual overall appearance and quality of the pan-fried steaks”, wrote the researchers in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

In a recent report from Mintel stated that the US marinade market presented opportunities for manufacturers: "Given the renewed focus on healthful eating among consumers, easy and healthy marinades for vegetables could be very well received in the marketplace. Further, given consumers interesting in new flavours and ethnic foods, the category could achieve a great deal through flavour innovations," stated the report.

Study details

The researchers, led by Isabel Ferriera, took eight beef samples and marinated eight in pilsner beer, eight marinated in red wine, and kept four as control samples. The beef was marinated for different amounts of time, ranging from one to six hours, followed by frying.

The data showed that all the meat samples marinated in red wine or beer contained lower levels of heterocyclic amines than the control samples. Indeed, carcinogenic compounds such as 2-amino-1-methyl-6-phenylimidazo[4,5-b]pyridine and 2-amino-3,8-dimethylimidazo[4,5-f]quinoxaline were reduced by 88 and 40 per cent, respectively, after marinating for six hours.

Furthermore, the levels of 4,8-DiMeIQx, a compound with reported mutagenic properties, was reduced significantly when the beer marinade was used.

Taste tests

Ferriera and her co-workers recruited 27 people for a taste panel, and fed them pan-fried steak (control) or red wine- or beer- marinated steaks. The marinade duration was limited to two hours as a longer marinade was reported to produce detrimental effects on odour, colour, and overall quality.

No significant difference was found in the odour, colour, and overall quality of steaks marinated in beer and the control, non-marinated steaks. However, the panellists scored the red wine-marinated beef lower.

“Results from descriptive sensory analysis of unmarinated and two hour marinated beef samples, tested for by two trained sensory panels, pointed to beer marinade as the most adequate for maintaining the usual overall appearance and quality of the pan-fried steaks,” concluded the researchers.

Source: Journal of Agricultural and Food ChemistyVolume 56, Pages 10625-10632“Effect of Beer/Red Wine Marinades on the Formation of Heterocyclic Aromatic Amines in Pan-Fried Beef”Authors: A. Melo, O. Viegas, C. Petisca, O. Pinho, I.M.P.L.V.O. Ferreira

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