Grilled beef popularly known as “suya” in Nigeria is an all-time delicacy, which is mostly hawked or sold at specific spots at night. A medic once tried to sensitize the public about the possible health risks which comes with consuming “suya”. The medic said something like: “suya” collects yada yada number of bacteria.” And someone dismissed it with a joke, “that’s why we eat it at night, when the bacteria are asleep!” Funny, right? No jokes, if you want to reduce your risk of colon cancer, you should watch your consumption of grilled beef.
Some people think suya is an exclusive Nigerian delicacy but that’s not true. Aside from Nigeria, it is also consumed in Cameroon, Niger, and Ghana. Most of us love suya so much. That’s why the definition of beautiful evening for some, is to have chunks of it, alongside their favorite drink. The packaging in old newspapers with its bright red powdery sauce, onion rings, sliced cucumber, and tomatoes makes it nearly irresistible. But tasty does not always mean healthy!
What makes this delicacy potentially deadly?
- First of all, suya is prepared by placing the meat over an open fire. This fire is mostly made with polythene bags, plastics, and some other quick-burning materials. These materials emit what is known as polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbon (PAH). This substance is dangerous to your health because it alters your genes and exposes a person to lung diseases, asthma, and low intelligence quotient, especially in kids whose mothers were exposed to it.
- The second is contracting diseases from animals. One cannot tell what meat is being grilled for sale. More often than not, it is a sick animal or one which died mysteriously of some untreated disease. Just in case you do not know, it is possible to be infected with a disease that an animal has either through contact or through consumption of half-cooked meat. Those kinds of diseases are often referred to as zoonotic diseases. A very common example is ebola.
- Germs from unhygienic preparation is another thing. We see the suya spot and how the vendors are mostly sweating it out with a queue of impatient customers. The rack upon which the meat is grilled is hardly ever cleaned. It accumulates fat and soot for months unending. The vendor makes no efforts to install any hygienic measures mostly because he is unenlightened.
What do research findings say about suya?
A new finding, reveals that burnt meats like “suya” contain harmful compounds that increase the risk of colon cancer. According to the source, “the more charred (black crust formation on meat) suya is, the more it contains Heterocyclic Amines (HCAs). HCAs and cancers are like best of friends…” If one thing you need to do to avoid having colon cancer is as easy as reducing your suya intake, do not take it for granted.
It is important to note that, I do not imply that once you stop/reduce your consumption of suya, you become immune to colon cancer. It means that the risk of suffering from colon cancer is lowered.