MadSci Network: Chemistry

Re: What happens to stearic acid on steak when it is grilled?

Date: Sat Jan 15 14:24:56 2000
Posted By: Robert LaBudde, Staff, Food science, Least Cost Formulations, Ltd.
Area of science: Chemistry
ID: 940911239.Ch

If the stearic acid (one of the fatty acids in meat) is subjected to high 
heat, it will char, probably simultaneously reacting with the protein 
present to form heterocyclic amines, which are known carcinogens. This is 
the 'burnt', charcoal-like substance on the outside of the meat.

Stearic acid is a hydrocarbon, so the oxidation products generated by 
itself with heat and oxygen are carbon, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, 
water and intermediate hydrocarbons.

If the stearic acid is not heated high enough to char, it will just melt, 
making the fat liquid and juicy. It will congeal (if beef or mutton) on 

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