Diced cherries can do more than flavor to fruitcakes -- tart cherries retard spoilage of ground beef and reduce the formation of potentially carcinogenic compounds in hamburgers during cooking, report US researchers. The study showed that hamburgers containing cherries were slower to spoil during refrigerated storage. This is thought to be due to antioxidant effects of compounds in cherries.
The research team also found that compared with pure ground beef, cherry hamburgers had about 70% lower levels of heterocyclic aromatic amines (HAAs), carcinogens that form when meat is cooked. The reduction in HAA concentrations in the cherries patties was due in part to dilution as the patties contained 11.5% cherry. However, the major inhibitory effect of cherry tissue is clearly due to cherry components functioning as inhibitors of the reaction(s) leading to HAA formation.
In accordance with the results of previous studies, the cooked cherry burgers were juicier and lower in fat than the beef-only burgers, Britt and colleagues report. After 4 days in a refrigerator, they also contained less than half as much oxidized cholesterol as the plain burgers. Findings from previous research suggest that oxidized cholesterol is more harmful than regular cholesterol.
According to a statement issued by the university, cherry burgers are now on school lunch menus in 16 states -- Arizona, California, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Washington and West Virginia.
Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry December 1998
COMMENT: I think this is a marvelous application of biochemistry and food science. The newsletter two weeks ago discussed how these HCAs are what is believed to be the cause of the cancer causing potential of most meats. Grilled meats are especially vulnerable to developing them. The less one cooks the meat, the less they form. However, one has to balance the cooking with the risk of acquiring infections from the meat. I would love to taste these "cherry burgers.’ I am delighted to see that they are being served in Illinois. If anyone has a child who is in a school where these burgers are being served, I would appreciate the name of the school. If no one responds, I will experiment in June when the cherries are in season and use them in some ground beef.