Checking Out Safe Cookware

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Many of us are conscious about the quality of food that we put into our bodies to stay strong and healthy, but have you ever considered the potential dangers lurking in the cookware you use to prepare your food? For many people, the implements that they use to cook with don’t get a second thought, but different types of cookware can actually leach toxins into our food. Here are some things to be aware of:

Teflon, a common non-stick coating applied to cookware can easily, under normal cooking situations, exceed the temperature at which it starts to break down and emit toxic chemicals and gases. The chemical breakdown of Teflon has long been linked to pet bird deaths (Teflon toxicosis). Teflon’s maker, Dupont, has also acknowledged that the fumes emitted from Teflon can cause an illness in humans called “polymer fume fever,” although no further research has been done on its long term effects on humans. Dupont claims that if you cook with Teflon coated cookware at a low temperature and don’t burn the food in the pan, you will be safe.

Several decades ago, researchers found a link between Alzheimer’s Disease and aluminum. As a result, there was concern about the metal leaching into food from aluminum cookware. Fortunately, these days aluminum cookware is anodized- a process which hardens the surface, making it non-stick and reducing the amount of aluminum that gets into food. Most experts agree that the amount of aluminum absorbed from cookware is negligible, but be aware that salty and acidic foods, like tomatoes, tend to leach more aluminum out than other foods, so refrain from cooking these foods (i.e. tomato sauce) in un-anodized aluminum pan. Also avoid storing these types of foods in aluminum containers.

Older enameled cookware can contain high levels of cadmium. Many manufacturers used this toxic substance in the red, yellow, and orange pigment used to color the interior of the cookware. Manufacturers today have discontinued its use, but beware of enameled cookware handed down from grandma or found in flea markets and yard sales as there is no guarantee as to its safety.

Stainless steel is generally considered a safe cooking implement. Stainless steel is made my mixing steel with nickel and chromium. These metals can still seep into foods, but the amount is negligible. Still, some people are allergic to nickel, and if you are one of those people, it’s probably best to avoid stainless steel.

Cast Iron is also considered a safe cooking alternative. Iron can seep into foods from these pots and pans, but it is a necessary nutrient to the body, needed for red blood cell production, so the dangers are low.

No matter which cookware you choose to use in your home, always look at the recommended usage and care instructions. Dinged and pitted cookware is more likely to leach metals and toxins into your food, and some implements (particularly non-stick) are recommended for heating only at lower temperatures. By raising your awareness or the potential dangers in your cookware you can insure that every morsel of food that you make for yourself and your family will be healthy and toxin free.

Photo by: Elena Kolchina –
Fotolia

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Comments

  1. Catherine says:

    Thanks for the review. I always worry about the coatings on cookware and eating utensils.

  2. anita says:

    I have always used cast iron. If you can find these they are great. After years they become encrusted and nothing sticks at all. I have had cast iron skillets for over 50 years. Better than non stick which seems to hardly last at all.

  3. Angie says:

    I recently purchased the Green Pan 12″ Fry Pan at Target. It claims to be PTFE-free and high performance to 850 degrees. It works great and I find I use a lower temp on the stove, its like the pan gets hotter with less. They have an entire line of pots and pans. The Original Green Pan. http://www.green-pan.com

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