Adverse Effects Of Paracetamol: Why People Should Stop Using Paracetamol To Tenderize Meat
A recent report revealed that local restaurants use paracetamol when cooking meat to make it soften faster. An overdose of paracetamol has a lot of consequences but boiling it is worse because it releases an acid that could cause liver and kidney failure.
When it was discovered that paracetamol had the power to soften meat quicker, it seemed like an awesome discovery. After all, paracetamol is cheap, can be got at any drugstore for as low as N50, and one tablet can do wonders in softening meat. But what users of paracetamol as a meat tenderizer may have failed to take into account is the adverse effects of paracetamol.
Adverse effects of paracetamol: How bad can it get?
In the 1960s, there were fears that aspirin and other painkillers like Ibuprofen have harmful effects such as ulcers, stomach bleeding and others. The possibility of these side effects made people turn their attention to other drugs like paracetamol. As a result, when people felt any ache, they could just head over to a drugstore nearby for paracetamol. Paracetamol since became the go-to medicine for mild conditions like pain and headaches. At some point, scientists started to observe that paracetamol could cause long term problems of its own, but for many years there was no conclusive study to prove this.
For Adeola, a young mother who spoke to a writer for OperaNews, paracetamol belongs in her cooking pot. "It's a lot faster to boil meat with paracetamol. I have used it to cook cow leg on a number of occasions. If you add one tablet, the meat will melt and become soft in just ten minutes," she said.
One of the things Adeola shares in common with people who take it for pain relief is the constant presence of the drug in day to day living. Many people go as far as stocking their homes with paracetamol, for an easier and quicker reach. Both Adeola and regular users are putting their lives in danger without even realizing it. Paracetamol is a killer when consumed regularly as a pain reliever, but when cooked in a pot, one may just be asking for kidney or liver failure.
Adverse effects of paracetamol: Why you should stop using paracetamol to soften meat?
A Facebook user called attention to the use of paracetamol to cook goat meat 'pepper soup' in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State and other surrounding areas. The reason for this practice is that it helps them serve their eager customers quickly, saves the cost of firewood, kerosene, or gas. But when paracetamol goes into the meat and encounters heat, the properties that make it a pain killer disappear, leaving behind a very acidic substance that is extremely dangerous for human consumption. In this process of cooking, according to experts, paracetamol is broken down into something called 4-aminophenol, which is very toxic to the kidney and liver.
There's a possibility that this could be the reason why the number of Nigerians suffering from kidney failure is rising. It is not known how many restaurants and bukas use paracetamol as a way to soften meat in Nigeria. But judging by how popular the practice is, and the desperate desire to save time and make more money, one can guess that there must be quite a number of them. Last year in March, the Nigerian Association of Nephrology (NAN) revealed that 25 million Nigerians, covering over 13 per cent of the country's estimated 180million people, had kidney failures. Awareness may be needed because most people don't know how dangerous it is to use paracetamol in cooking meat. However, the danger of paracetamol doesn't stop with people who use it for cooking. Those who use it at the slightest appearance of body pains are in great danger too.
What happens to your body when you overdose on paracetamol?
Where cooking makes paracetamol dangerous, something else awaits those who use it regularly as a painkiller. In a day, the recommended dose of paracetamol is 4g. Anything above that is an overdose, which can cause complications in your liver. This overdose of paracetamol tends to happen as a result of ignorance. The drug that many Nigerians know as paracetamol is not the only drug that contains paracetamol. So the overdose happens as a result of taking two different products that have paracetamol. When someone has a headache, they take paracetamol, but when they have a headache and the flu, they may end up taking two products that have paracetamol. All the more reason why you should talk to your doctor before taking any medication in the first place.
How can I tenderize my meat without paracetamol?
Understandably, people who use paracetamol to cook, do it to quicken cooking times. Below are other methods you can use to tenderize your meat:
- Cooking with a pressure cooker
- Slice the meat into smaller pieces. This way you cut the muscle fibres of the meat, which makes it easier to cook.
- Soak with vinegar, or citrus juices, or wine before cooking.
- Cook the meat slowly.
- Soak in brine (highly concentrated salt water) for a few hours before cooking. Although, salt in high quantity isn't good for you.
- You can use ginger or lime while marinating your meat.
- Buy commercial meat tenderizer, but make sure you use in small amounts to prevent the meat from becoming too soft.
Overall, you should avoid using paracetamol as a way to soften meat. And if you take an overdose of paracetamol, see your doctor immediately.
Read also: Can you take paracetamol in pregnancy?