Mutagens in Cooked Food
By the end of the year 1989, 15 different mutagenic heterocyclic amines were isolated from cooked food, heated proteins, and heated amino acids. They are potent mutagens as tested by the Ames Salmonella assay. By the early 1970s, there was much interest in environmental genotoxins, and studies had been performed using assay systems, available at that time, on important issues such as mutagenic food additives. Since the creation by B. N. Ames of the Salmonella typhimurium strains that are extremely sensitive to a wide variety of mutagens, studies aimed at detecting and identifying potential carcinogens in the environment have flourished. At the October 1976 annual meeting of the Environmental Mutagen Society of Japan, Yoshida et al. reported their observation on the generation of mutagenicity from heating of proteins and amino acids, notably tryptophan. Commoner et al. showed in 1978 that heating meat extract at commonly used cooking temperatures can generate compounds that are highly mutagenic and yet distinct from benzo(a)pyrene.