There have been a lot of concerns lately about the safety of cookware. Cookware comes in all types of material these days: Teflon, stainless steel, aluminum, cast iron, glass, enamel and other non-stick surfaces. Maybe you haven’t given your cookware much thought or maybe you are here trying to find the safest cookware to use for you and your family. How do you know which cookware is the safest?
I’m here to help.
I never trust what the FDA tells me is safe. They are backed by the government. I like to hear what independent, non-profit research groups, like the EWG (Environmental Working Group) have to say about the safety of cookware. They have nothing to gain and are not backed by multi-billion dollar firms. Doesn’t anyone watch Damages?
What makes certain cookware unsafe is that some cookware leaches harmful chemicals into your food as you cook. When certain surfaces are heated their chemical properties change. What may be safe at room temperature is highly toxic when heated. Copper was once a common metal to cook with until it was discovered that copper interacts with foods and becomes highly toxic.
Non-Stick and Teflon Cookware
Non stick cookware is easy to clean and allows the cook to use less fat and oil, however we now know that the non-stick coating is hazardous to our health. The non-stick coating is either silicone based or PTFE (polytetrafluoroethylene) or Fluoropolymer. Silicone based coatings are applied to bakeware that does not come in direct contact with the heat source. PTFE coatings are used for stovetop cooking.
The Cookware Manufacturers Association identifies the ingredients of a non stick coating:
- A resin that binds the coating to the cookware surface
- Color pigmentation
- The release agent – PTFE or silicone
- A carrier agent, an organic solvent or water
- Optional reinforcing to provide better wear protection
If using nonstick cookware be sure to keep things following things in mind:
- Wash all non-stick cookware before using
- Rub a little oil onto the surface
- Only cook on low to medium heat
- Never use utensils that will scratch like metal spatulas, forks, or anything sharp
- Hand wash all non-stick cookware
- If you notice wear and tear on your nonstick cookware, replace it
Teflon, made by Dupont, is the most commonly manufactured non-stick material on the market. Even they have acknowledged that when their cookware is used with high heat it produces 15 harmful gases and chemicals, which can sicken people with a condition called “polymer fume fever”, often misdiagnosed as the common flu. These fumes are known to kill birds.
Teflon Kills Birds
Check out this letter that DuPont wrote to a bird owner who put up a website about the dangers of Teflon:
—– Original Message —–
From: “Cheryl L Mitchell” < Cheryl.L.Mitchell@USA.dupont.com >
To: [NAME REMOVED]
Subject: Use of DuPont trademark
To Whom It May Concern:
It has come to our attention that your internet website includes referencesto the DuPont Teflon® brand of non-stick coatings for cookware and alleges that Teflon® non-stick coatings may be unsafe for exotic birds kept as pets. There are several points we would like to address: Teflon® is a DuPont registered trademark that is used for fluoropolymer-based non-stick coatings as well as other products. Other companies market similar products for cookware or other applications under different trademarks. Use of the Teflon® brand by parties other than DuPont is allowed only through a licensing agreement with DuPont. Therefore, the use of the Teflon® brand on your website is not only potentially inaccurate in that it is used to describe products which may not be manufactured or marketed by DuPont, but it constitutes from a legal standpoint an inappropriate use of this DuPont intellectual asset. As such, we ask that you remove all references to DuPont Teflon® from your internet website by XXX, November XX, 2002.
Please confirm in writing your compliance to this request so we can note our records.
With regard to allegations that non-stick coatings made with Teflon® or other fluoropolymer coatings maybe harmful to birds, veterinary experts advise keeping pet birds away from cooking and cleaning fumes. These fumes can be hazardous to birds because birds are small and have very sensitive respiratory systems. This includes fumes from many household cleaning products, fumes from overheated cooking fats, and fumes from overheated non-stick cookware made with fluoropolymer coatings.
It may be helpful for you to know that, several years, ago, DuPont co-sponsored along with a veterinarian the development of a brochure entitled, “Making a Safe Home for Your Bird. This brochure is available on the internet at the following address: http://www.dupont.com/teflon/newsroom/bird.html
James V. Forte
Global Brand Manager – Teflon®
Teflon® is a registered trademark of DuPont.
This communication is for use by the intended recipient and contains information that may be privileged, confidential or copyrighted under applicable law. If you are not the intended recipient, you are hereby formally notified that any use, copying or distribution of this e-mail, in whole or in part, is strictly prohibited. Please notify the sender by return e-mail and delete this e-mail from your system. Unless explicitly and conspicuously designated as “E-Contract Intended”, this e-mail does not constitute a contract offer, a contract amendment, or an acceptance of a contract offer. This e-mail does not constitute a consent to the use of sender’s contact information for direct marketing purposes or for transfers of data to third parties.
Aluminum cookware is linked to Alzheimer’s disease and not considered a healthy option, regardless of what the FDA claims:
“Now cookware manufacturers have developed a process for treating aluminum that retains the heat conductivity properties of the metal, but changes aluminum in other ways. The process, called anodization, involves a series of electrochemical baths that thicken the oxide film that forms naturally on aluminum. This supplemental coating hardens the metal, making it more scratch resistant. Food barely sticks on the hard, smooth surface of this altered aluminum, making it easier to clean.”
SAFE AND HEALTHY COOKWARE
Stainless steel is a great alternative to nonstick cookware. Unlike Teflon, stainless steel browns food better. However, it is only safe if you purchase stainless steel cookware where the inside is 18/10 stainless steel. That means that 18% chromium and 10% nickel. If you are allergic to nickel try 18/8 or 18/0.
Cast iron pans is another healthy alternative to non-stick cooking surfaces. Cast iron can withstand high heat where non-stick cookware can’t. Cast iron is extremely durable and can be purchased pre-seasoned and ready to use.
Other healthy, non-leaching and safe cookware to use is glass, ceramic and stoneware. Glass is non-porous and does not react with food. Ceramic is excellent for high heat and is easy to clean. Stoneware is used mostly for baking, but some can be used on the stovetop.
It is ultimately up to you to decide what types of cookware you choose to use for you and your family. I hope, as an educated consumer, you found this information helpful. After writing this I am certainly going to get rid of all my non-stick cookware and buy only glass, ceramic, stoneware, cast iron or stainless steel.