Smoked and burnt foods can cause cancer

This is probably true. Some smoked and burnt foods may contain substances that potentially could cause cancer. The risk of cancer from these substances depends on the amount present and the amount of food eaten.

Generally, the levels of these cancer-producing substances in the total Australian diet is so low that the incidence of cancer from these is likely to be insignificant.

One group of carcinogenic substances in smoked and burnt foods, known as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), are produced when organic materials such as food or wood are strongly heated. When wood is burnt, the resulting smoke may contain varying amounts of PAHs. If the smoke is used to preserve or flavour food, some of the PAHs can be absorbed by the food.

PAHs can also be formed when meat is charred during grilling or barbecuing. The formation of PAHs can be minimised by removing as much fat as possible and not charring the meat.