This review provides an assessment of heterocyclic amine (HCA) formation and mitigation in processed meat and meat products. HCAs are formed when amino acids react with creatine during thermal processing of meat and meat products. The formation of HCAs depends on various factors, including the temperature, cooking time, fat contents, and presence of HCA precursors such as water, lipids, and marinades. Additional factors that could affect HCA formation are pH, meat type, and ingredients added during cooking such as antioxidants, amino acids, ions, fat, and sugars, which promote production of HCAs. 2-Amino-1-methyl-6-phenylimidazo[4,5-b]pyridine, 2-amino-3,8-dimethylimidazo[4,5-f]quinoxaline, 2-amino-3,4,8-trimethylimidazo[4,5-f]quinoxaline, 2-amino-3-methylimidazo-[4,5-f]quinoline, and 2-amino-3,4-dimethylimidazo[4,5-f]quinoline are HCAs of importance because of their link to cancer in humans. More than 25 HCAs have been identified in processed foods. Of these, nine HCAs are possible human carcinogens (group 2B) and one is a probable human carcinogen (group 2A). To mitigate HCA generation during heat processing, various techniques have been used, including recipe variations, adjustments of thermal processing conditions, addition of flavorings, pretreatments such as microwave heating, and addition of naturally occurring and artificial antioxidants.

  • HCAs are mutagenic compounds.

  • HCAs are formed in meat cooked at high temperatures.

  • HCAs are formed from amino acids, creatine, sugar, pyrrole, and pyridine derivatives.

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