A research study led by the University of Reading’s Dr Jane Parker and her colleagues has found a way to use technology from the car industry to make healthier smoked foods – which aren’t just better for you, but could also boast more flavour as well.

Zeolites are porous aluminosilicate minerals, used for years by car manufacturers to reduce the level of environmental pollutants from exhaust fumes. This study optimised filters made from these zeolites to remove polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) from the smoking process for foods, which are carcinogenic. PAHs form when food is cooked at high temperatures, such as when it is barbecued, and while human studies have not confirmed a link between PAH exposure from smoked foods and an increased risk of cancer, animal studies have drawn a link between the two.

Dr Parker’s team’s research revealed that using zeolite filters could lead to a reduction of up to 93% in PAHs levels in smoke for food preservation and flavour. Not only this, but a collaboration with a smoking company found a way to improve the flavour of these healthier smoked foods as well. US organisation Besmoke came up with a Pure Smoke Technology, which Dr Parker’s team found not only reduced PAH levels in smoked foods, but was also rated ‘better tasting’ than foods smoked using traditional methods – with unfiltered smoke – by an expert panel of tasters.

To read more about this research, the official publication can be viewed here, or Chemistry World have written an in-depth article about the study, which can be viewed here.

Other groundbreaking research studies by the IFNH can be viewed here.