Food & DrinkWhat are the black remains that, over time, you...

What are the black remains that, over time, you find on the surface of the pan?


There are questions that worry us. There are questions that we had never asked ourselves and that surprise us, to call it something. There are questions that… We better get to the point: you have asked us what are the “black remains” that, with use and time, appear in some pans. Well, it can be one of two things: either they are burnt-on food remains that have accumulated due to poor washing, or it is a kitchen utensil bought in a rather strange place.

Beatriz Robles, dietitian-nutritionist and food technology, tells that most likely these remains are “food remains that have stuck to the surface of the pan.” “As disgusting as it sounds, it’s the most plausible explanation and it’s not that weird,” she specified.

“I’ve never seen it,” admits to Gemma del Cano, a specialist in safety and the food industry. What suits the expert the most is that it is burnt food remains. “You have to wash the pans well!” she recalls.

In addition to inefficient washing, one of the reasons why pans can begin to accumulate food debris (which, when burned, could gradually form that black layer) is that they are in poor condition. Of course, this organic matter will almost certainly be free of microorganisms: “It would be miraculous with the number of times they would have gone through high temperatures,” says Robles.

Regardless of these suspicious ‘black residues’, if the surface of the utensil is defective or damaged, “the food will stick and it will be difficult to clean, which can favor the growth of pathogens”, as Miguel Angel Luruena, a food technologist, warns. , in Consumer. Del Cano’s recommendation is to change the pan as soon as it is no longer in good condition. “If they are not intact or have bumps or dents, it is better to remove them”, since the material that has been shown to be innocuous for contact with food is the one that is in good condition, explained the expert in in an article dedicated to cooking with teflon pans.

Problems: acrylamide and benzopyrene

Those black remains in the pan for which you have consulted us are not totally harmless. They are related to two ‘old acquaintances’ of Maldita Alimentacion that have been shown to have health risks: acrylamide and benzopyrene.

Acrylamide, which we already talked about in, is a substance that is created naturally during cooking processes at high temperatures (frying, cooking, roasting or industrial processes at 120 ºC and low humidity) in those products that contain Starch, explains the Spanish Agency for Food Safety and Nutrition (AESAN): “It is formed mainly thanks to sugars and amino acids (above all, asparagine) that are naturally present in many foods.”

The origin is in a chemical process, the Maillard reaction, which is responsible for the smells, flavors and “desirable properties that make food very appetizing”, among them “the golden color and toasted flavors typical of bread, cereals , French fries or meat”, explains Beatriz Robles, dietitian-nutritionist and food technology in her blog.

According to the National Cancer Institute (INC), the main source of exposure to this substance is tobacco smoke. Then some food like cookies and bread, breakfast cereals, canned black olives, prune juice, coffee, and chips. Of course, those foods that contain starch and are cooked at high temperatures are also a source of acrylamide.

The health concern of acrylamide is its cancer risk. The International Center for Research on Cancer (IARC) classifies it in group 2A, probably carcinogenic. There are studies with mice where it is appreciated that exposure to acrylamide increases the risk of developing various types of cancer (the most recent, published in 2012).

However, epidemiological studies in humans have not found consistent evidence that dietary acrylamide is associated with the risk of any type of cancer. For this reason, it is classified in group 2A, since in the words of Robles, “the evidence that it is carcinogenic is sufficient in animals but insufficient in humans.”

The other ‘friend’ linked to this suspicious crust is benzopyrene, a chemical compound that is part of the so-called Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs). This group, to which more than 100 different chemical substances belong, is formed by the incomplete combustion of organic matter such as coal, oil, gasoline, garbage, and tobacco. When they appear in food, it is due to procedures that include smoking, drying, toasting, grilling, and grilling, and foods rich in fat and protein (meat and fish) that are prepared on barbecues.

Elika, the Basque Foundation for Food Safety, explains that among the great diversity of PAHs, 12 compounds are considered to be carcinogenic to varying degrees, and can cause long-term adverse health effects. Of these, Elika highlights that benzopyrene is “the most toxic of all”: it is classified in group 1, carcinogenic to humans, by the IARC.

Benzopyrene has been shown to be carcinogenic both in studies in animal models and in humans working in environments where there is high exposure to benzopyrene, such as industrial activities or forest fires.

Another toxic chemical that is related to these suspected “black traces” are heterocyclic amines that are also formed when meat (especially poultry, beef, pork, or fish, according to the INC) is cooked at high temperatures. Both heterocyclic amines and PAHs have the ability to cause changes in DNA and may increase the risk of cancer.

How to prevent these risks

We already know the health risks associated with the remains that we find on the surface of the pans. But don’t panic: all these dangers can be prevented and avoided. What? Taking care of cooking utensils and not scorching the food that we prepare in them.

None of us like to get rid of a historic frying pan from our kitchen if, apparently, it continues to fulfill its function. But as Luruena recalls in her Consumer article, these utensils “have a limited useful life”, so it is advisable to check them from time to time. What to pay attention to? In itself it presents damage: scratches, surface detachments, bulges or blows.

Another part of caring for frying pans is washing, which must be done avoiding sudden changes in temperature on the surface (for example, without using cold water when the pan is still hot after cooking) and without using metal utensils or scouring pads, which They can damage the surface, as indicated to by the biologist specializing in food safety Elena Gonzalez.

On the food side, the key is not to overheat, over-roast, or scorch the product. In the article on the color changes of food when cooking it, we offer several keys and tricks, which are summarized in removing the food on time and avoiding very black colors or dry and rough textures in the products. And, of course, do not cook on already burnt food remains if we want to avoid a potentially carcinogenic scab.

Latest news

Everything You Need to Know Before Booking An Escort

Looking for Birmingham escorts? We get it – there's nothing quite like diving headfirst into some good ol' fun...

Four questions about the relationship between meat and cancer

The World Health Organization published a report last Monday warning that the consumption of processed meat may increase the...

Fast food | Professional Pharmacy

The characteristics of what has been commonly called "fast food" or fast food are reviewed below, from the point...

The truth about fast food

The globalization that characterizes the century in which we live seems to include even the food we eat. The...

Fast food New gastronomic trends

The way of eating - the habits, the chosen ingredients - is decisive...

Kenya’s potato drama: farmers can only meet standards if there are some

The Kenyan public was outraged by KFC’s admission that it was facing potato supply shortages due to delays from...

Must read

Everything You Need to Know Before Booking An Escort

Looking for Birmingham escorts? We get it – there's...

Four questions about the relationship between meat and cancer

The World Health Organization published a report last Monday...

You might also likeRELATED
Recommended to you