Heterocyclic Amines

Appears in
On Food and Cooking

By Harold McGee

Published 2004

  • About

HCAs are formed at high temperatures by the reaction of minor meat components (creatine and creatinine) with amino acids. HCA production is generally greatest at the meat surface where the temperature is highest and the meat juices collect, and on meats that are grilled, broiled, or fried well done. Oven roasting leaves relatively few HCAs on the meat but large amounts in the pan drippings. Acid marinades reduce HCA production, as does cooking gently and aiming for a rare or medium doneness. Vegetables, fruits, and acidophilus bacteria appear to bind HCAs in the digestive tract and prevent them from causing damage.