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How to choose better charcoal for consumer, health and environment

In addition to bringing a better product, consumers who make the right choice can strengthen the sustainable charcoal chain – Photo: Romary by Wikipedia / Cc

How to choose better charcoal for consumer, health and environment

Study shows that quality coal, certified and environmentally sustainable, is not always priced more expensive

The right choice of good charcoal can guarantee not only a good barbecue but can also help in strengthening the sustainable production chain for the sector. What’s more, the environmentally correct product is not always the most expensive. Who defends the idea is the forestry engineer Ananias Francisco Dias Junior in his research of direct doctorate by the Superior School of Agriculture Luiz de Queiroz (Esalq) of USP.

In the study, the researcher analyzed the marketing and quality aspects for the consumption of charcoal. To do this, between 2014 and 2015, he analyzed several samples of 53 brands sold in 50 commercial establishments in 63 neighborhoods of Piracicaba and interviewed 1023 consumers of the city.

“Consumers need to consider the quality of charcoal in the same way they consider the beer, meat or vegetables used in a barbecue,” says Dias Junior. “To do this, you need to be on the lookout for products that meet regulatory requirements. Respecting this, we will continue to make our barbecue. This valorization would result in the improvement of its entire productive chain which, for a long time, has been demanding special attention, since it involves hundreds of thousands of agents, from production to commercialization. “

According to the engineer, Brazil is the world’s largest producer, with 6 million tons / year and, at the same time, the largest consumer of charcoal in the world. In the State of São Paulo, production is 18 thousand tons per year and consumption is 20 thousand tons. “This productive chain employs thousands of people, but it is little valued,” he says.

Premium Carbon Seal

To help consumers choose a quality product, the researcher recommends that the first thing to look for is information on the packaging of coal, such as batch, registration with environmental agencies, such as the Brazilian Institute for the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources ), Environmental Company of the State of São Paulo (Cetesb) and, in other states, the State Institute of Forestry (IEF).

“It is recommended that the wood used be eucalyptus. The information on the origin of the wood as well as the lot number are also important because they inform if the material comes from planted forests, not from native forests, and if there is a monitoring control of the production process. “

When this is done, the charcoal pieces of the packaging must be observed. “Eucalyptus charcoal has, in most cases, larger pieces, more than 10 centimeters, little dust, are more homogeneous and rectilinear. The consumer should be wary if the coal is too grainy, with many small parts and very heterogeneous. Possibly it was made from the extraction of other wood than eucalyptus. In addition, good coal, in addition to the features already mentioned, resembles a ‘glass’ noise falling on the ground, “he reports.

Eucalyptus charcoal presents, in most cases, larger pieces, with more than 10 centimeters, little dust, and more homogeneous and rectilinear – Photo: Rcandre by Wikipedia / Cc

According to the researcher, the State of São Paulo is the only one that has a regulation of 2015 for the use of charcoal for barbecue: it is the “Premium Coal Seal”. “The other Brazilian states have used this rule, even if in an incipient way. The resolution, of voluntary adhesion, informs that the producer or establishment that owns the seal produces or acquires vegetal charcoal attending to social and environmental fair questions for the execution of the work. The idea is that these actions will cause the producers and marketers of the product to stamp the label as a form of marketing, collaborating with the production chain. “

Quality does not always cost more

According to the forestry engineer, the results of the survey were surprising. “One of the observed facts was that the quality of the products did not present a well defined behavior and the relation ‘more expensive – better quality’ did not materialize, since the products that presented the appropriate legal and socioenvironmental requirements in its productive process do not necessarily were the most valuable. “

The forestry engineer started by observing the existence of numerous brands of charcoal marketed in supermarket chains, independent supermarkets, meat houses, gas stations, bakeries, grocery stores, grocery stores and small markets. The researcher realized that from one year to another, few brands remained in the retail market.

Products that presented the appropriate legal and socio-environmental requirements in their production process were not necessarily the most valuable ones – Photo: Luiz Felipe Sousa Oliveira by Wikipedia / Cc

When interviewing the 1,023 consumers, the researcher found that packaging is one of the main characteristics for the purchase. The presence of a handle, resistant packaging, ease of firing and preparation yield are very relevant attributes. On the other hand, it has been observed that consumers, for the most part, do not consider the production and purchasing aspects of regulation, which are very important for the maintenance of the coal production chain.

Toxicity

Related to occupational health, the study detected the presence of 16 compounds with noxious capacity. However, they were extracted by a dilution of the carbon in organic solvents. “Probably during the barbecue burn, these compounds contained in the smoke are degraded by the temperature reached in the process. It is worth remembering that the smoke comes into contact with food, and important future studies that characterize it for better definitions, “he says. The researcher warned, however, that the use of charcoal does not cause damage to health.

The doctoral thesis Charcoal for cooking food: market aspects and quality for consumption will be defended on December 19. The orientation of the work was by Professor José Otávio Brito, from the Department of Forestry Sciences, and the collaboration of Professor Marcos Milan, from the Department of Biosystems Engineering, both from Esalq. The research was supported by the Institute of Research and Forestry Studies (Ipef) and the National Council of Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq).

source: University of São Paulo

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