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In an attempt to make bacon healthier by reducing carcinogens, scientists have unlocked an added bonus.

Mike Pomranz
March 26, 2018

When news broke in 2015 that the World Health Organization was adding processed meats to the list of “group 1” carcinogens, people were troubled to say the least. Granted, no one necessarily believed that eating bacon was healthy, but at the same time, you probably never expected to see it on a list that also includes smoking and plutonium. But speaking of the former, smoking meats can increase their carcinogen levels, so scientists have been working on a somewhat obvious solution to make the smoking process healthier: using filters.

In the search for a healthier smoking process, Jane K. Parker and her team at The Flavour Center at the University of Reading in the United Kingdom turned to a type of filter commonly used in the automotive industry known as zeolite. Their research has found that filtering smoke through this porous mineral significantly cuts some carcinogenic compounds without any major effect on the flavor of the smoked product.

Specifically, a study Parker recently presented at the 255th American Chemical Society National Meeting & Exposition stated, “a selective filter was developed that reduces PAH concentrations in a smoke by up to 90 percent while maintaining a desirable smoky flavor.” Later, the study adds that “the difference in perception of flavor was minimal.”

In fact, some expert tasters even suggested that the filtered smoke created better-tasting food, saying that the results were more balanced and less harsh than traditionally smoked meat.

It should be noted that “at the moment there is no direct link between an increase in consumption of smoked foods and an increased incidence in cancer,” Parker said at the ACS event according to ScienceAlert. But, he continues, “We believe, however, that we should be reducing the levels of these compounds in food to levels that are as low as reasonably achievable.” Who wouldn’t be interested in healthier, potentially even better tasting smoked meats?