Fast Food Tested for Carcinogens

Fast Food Tested for Carcinogens
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Chicken from seven fast food outlets were tested to see which had the highest levels of carcinogenic heterocyclic amines.

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Okay, so it really is the chicken; but which chicken? Researchers last year tested the levels of carcinogenic heterocyclic amines in chicken samples from McDonald’s, Burger King, Chick-fil-A, Chili’s, TGI Friday’s, Outback Steakhouse, and Applebee’s. Which was worse? You tell me.

One hundred samples of chicken were taken, and every single one of the hundred was contaminated. But which one took the cancer cake? Applebee’s has a grilled chicken salad; Burger King and Chick-fil-A both have chicken sandwiches; Chili’s has a “guiltless” chicken platter; Micky D’s has a grilled chicken salad; Outback has barbequed chicken; and TGI Friday’s a grilled chicken salad.

Which is worse? It was that chicken salad from Friday’s. The researchers conclude: “Simple steps, such as reducing or avoiding the consumption of grilled chicken products…can be encouraged as a strategy to reduce one’s total intake of carcinogenic or mutagenic toxins.”

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by veganmontreal.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Image thanks to uravms via Flickr.

Okay, so it really is the chicken; but which chicken? Researchers last year tested the levels of carcinogenic heterocyclic amines in chicken samples from McDonald’s, Burger King, Chick-fil-A, Chili’s, TGI Friday’s, Outback Steakhouse, and Applebee’s. Which was worse? You tell me.

One hundred samples of chicken were taken, and every single one of the hundred was contaminated. But which one took the cancer cake? Applebee’s has a grilled chicken salad; Burger King and Chick-fil-A both have chicken sandwiches; Chili’s has a “guiltless” chicken platter; Micky D’s has a grilled chicken salad; Outback has barbequed chicken; and TGI Friday’s a grilled chicken salad.

Which is worse? It was that chicken salad from Friday’s. The researchers conclude: “Simple steps, such as reducing or avoiding the consumption of grilled chicken products…can be encouraged as a strategy to reduce one’s total intake of carcinogenic or mutagenic toxins.”

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by veganmontreal.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Image thanks to uravms via Flickr.

Doctor's Note

Check out these videos on meat carcinogens:
Estrogenic Cooked Meat Carcinogens
Carcinogens in the Smell of Frying Bacon
Meat Fumes: Dietary Secondhand Smoke
Heterocyclic Amines in Eggs, Cheese, and Creatine?
When Nitrites Go Bad

Also check out my other videos on chicken and carcinogens

For more context, see my associated blog posts: Estrogenic Chemicals in MeatAvoiding Cooked Meat Carcinogens; and Vitamin B12: how much, how often?

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

14 responses to “Fast Food Tested for Carcinogens

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  1. Dr. Greger,
    I have a question for you. First of all thank you so much for posting all your fantastic videos! They are so informative and entertaining. The way you speak is captivating and at times very humorous in the best possible way! Thank you for making all this information free! I watch at least 30 to 50 videos a week minimum.
    Now, back to my question. I myself am a raw vegan (I take supplements. Hopefully all the right ones.) but my fiancee is an omnivior. He says he will never stop eating animal products. At this point I have been able to get him to stop eating eggs, beef, and pork (for the most part). The pork he did on his own and giving up eggs wasn’t much of a sacrifice. The beef he gave up because I told him chicken and fish are healthier and his sweat is less offense when he sticks to chicken. Now, after watching numerous videos it seems like chicken may be killing him faster than the beef ever did! So, if he has to eat either chicken or beef which is better? Could you also talk a bit about why beef gives off a stronger body odor than chicken?

    Thank you so very much for all you do for this world,
    Myra




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  2. Hello,
    My partner and I are interested in doing a project about carcinogens for the school science fair. We would like to know if it is a very complicated process to test for the carcinogens, or if it is possible to do at home.
    Thank you.




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    1. Hi Natasha! What a great idea for the science fair! I think the Ames test would be a good way to start looking at foods that might be mutagenic and potentially carcinogenic, but it might be too complicated to do at home unless you have microbiologists around who could offer some guidance.
      If you were still interested in testing out fast food, what about testing to see how long it takes for fast food to start decomposing? McDonald’s burgers have been notorious for not decomposing, but perhaps you could expand the sample size and look at the same type of food (like french fries) from five different fast food restaurants? I’d be interested to see what you find out! :)




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      1. Thank you so much for your help :) I looked into your fast food idea, and I discovered that McDonalds hamburgers DO rot when there is moisture, and even homemade burgers can withstand rotting when the conditions are right. @Tommasina1:disqus




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  3. I was wondering if I cook my chicken at a low temperature, such as in a crockpot, will I avoid the a lot of the meat carcinogens? How about lean ground turkey? I can go without meat but my husband would have a very tough time.




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    1. Well the chicken itself contain carcinogens and toxins, so you if you can, stay away from it. But yes, cooking in a crockpot will surely be healthier than for example frying. But you can enjoy chicken if you really want to, just make sure that most of what you eat it healthly and don’t do it often. I don’t think eating chicken twice per year would harm you :)




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  4. Since the carcinogens disappear after 24 hours of eating meat, is it safe to assume that if you eat mean 3 times a week (every other day), that you be healthier, or am I misunderstanding all of this? Also, lean ground turkey? Any thoughts on this? My husband had a massive heart attack and his doctor told him to stick with lean chicken and turkey. I have heard you comment on the chicken but not the turkey at all?




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  5. Yes, I am afraid you were misunderstanding, Tina, and with your husband’s recent heart attack, you really want to be clear and aware of how much what he eats will affect his health and keep him from having another one. Unfortunately, what his doctor is telling him is problematic. Yes, lean chicken or turkey are better than fatter versions, but poultry or any animal protein is NOT what is good for your husband. As a nurse, moderator on this site and someone who’s husband also had a heart attack, I so want reach out to you with better information and am so glad you reached this site.

    Please go to the following links and read the following NF.org topic summaries: https://nutritionfacts.org/topics/heart-disease/ and https://nutritionfacts.org/topics/chicken/ where you will learn (and can verify with research studies) why chicken (and also turkey) is not healthy for your husband, almost as bad as red meat.

    Then please watch (with your husband if he’s agreeable) these videos:
    https://nutritionfacts.org/video/how-not-to-die-from-heart-disease/
    https://nutritionfacts.org/video/one-in-a-thousand-ending-the-heart-disease-epidemic/ There are many other videos on heart disease, as you will see, but this will be a good start.

    Finally, consider either renting or buying this book: Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease by Caldwell Esselstyn. You will be surprised and glad to know there’s a whole world of research out there on nutrition and heart health.
    ‘Don’t want to overwhelm you, but please know there are many many science-based resources available to help you and your husband move to a more plant-based life which will help him gain his health back. So glad you found this site to begin your journey toward better health.




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