This article helps you identify toxic cookware and what types NOT to use. Next week we reveal the safest and effective cookware options.
Safest Cookware and Bakeware Options
Today’s article covers what cookware to avoid, but you can look here for the safest cookware and bakeware options available.
Ever wonder why there are so many types of cookware to choose from? A wide range of materials, prices, and styles make it more difficult to figure out what’s best for your kitchen.
Some home cooks need a specific material that is compatible with the surface of their stove or the type of dish they’re preparing, while others need to carefully consider a budget. But did you ever consider the safety of the cookware you’re using to carefully prepare all those delicious meals? Is your cookware toxic? f you haven’t, then you should add this to your list of criteria for choosing the best cookware.
While you don’t necessarily need to throw away your pots and pans after reading this article, we’ll touch on the safety risks some materials pose and hope you’ll consider taking a closer look at your cookware collection. The good news is that there are only a few types of cookware we don’t recommend or use in our own kitchen.
Non-Stick (Teflon Coated)
Non-stick cookware coated with Teflon, a manmade chemical, is popular in part because it’s normally very cost-effective. Many consumers also choose it because they don’t have to worry about scraping baked-on bits from their pots and pans. However, this toxic non-stick cookware coating scratches easily, releasing particles of Teflon into food. While these particles are reportedly inert and not found to pose a health risk, they should not be consumed. (source) The American Cancer Society identifies the following as the main concern related to non-stick coatings:
The major health effect linked with Teflon is the potential release of dangerous fumes from coated pans that are overheated. These fumes can cause flu-like symptoms in humans (a condition known as polymer fume fever) and can be fatal to birds. (source)
Many will argue that normal cooking temperatures will very rarely reach temperatures high enough to release dangerous fumes. But…
…EWG-commissioned tests conducted in 2003 showed that in just two to five minutes on a conventional stove top, cookware coated with Teflon and other non-stick surfaces could exceed temperatures at which the coating breaks apart and emits toxic particles and gases. (source)
If you need more convincing that non-stick surfaces are dangerous, this graphic from the Environmental Working Group puts the dangers of Teflon into further perspective.
PFOA in Teflon
The American Cancer Society also warns that another chemical called perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) is used in the production of Teflon. While this chemical is burned off during processing and not present in significant amounts in the final product, “Some studies have suggested that higher than average PFOA blood levels in humans is linked to higher than normal cholesterol levels, thyroid disease, and reduced fertility.” (source) Results of these studies were concerning enough for the Environmental Protection Agency to urge companies to completely eliminate PFOA from the production of products by the year 2015.
There are many studies on Teflon in recent years, but to determine the extent of its health risks, we need more studies. However, the above information was enough motivation for us to kick non-stick toxic cookware out of our kitchen.
Sure, it’s light and durable, but it also comes with some health implications. It’s true that aluminum is everywhere – it’s in food, drugs, vaccines, personal products, and uncoated aluminum cookware. While the exposure to aluminum while cooking isn’t that high, it’s the accumulative effects of toxic aluminum cookware that can have serious long-term health consequences.
Aluminum damages brain tissue and also prevents our bodies from naturally detoxifying. (source) In the past, there has also been some research that supported the Alzheimer’s/aluminum link, but at the same time a lack of solid evidence that aluminum could be a cause of neurological diseases. However, there is some very recent research with comprehensive data that shows a direct relationship between aluminum exposure and Alzheimer’s disease.
Considering all these things, we choose to eliminate aluminum anywhere we can in our daily lives. It’s not possible to avoid all aluminum in the environment, but avoiding toxic aluminum cookware is simple.
In my opinion, copper is the most beautiful type of cookware available and many cooks use it based on its superior performance. However, you should overlook the beauty and performance of this cookware when considering the dangers copper may pose to health.
Copper and nickel, both toxic heavy metals, exist in the finish of copper cookware. These toxins can leach into your food. Heavy metals build up and have dangerous effects on the mind and body including mental disturbance and chronic illnesses.
Here is a tip to avoid the negative health effects of copper and nickel toxicity. Only purchase pieces that have copper on the outside or sandwiched between layers of another safe metal like stainless steel. Never purchase copper cookware that uses copper to line the inside surfaces.
What types of cookware SHOULD you be using?
The good news is that they use are many materials to produce cookware that is completely safe. Now that you know what not to buy, look here for the safest cookware and bakeware options available.
What are you cooking with?
Are you avoiding these dangerous/controversial types of toxic cookware?
References & Suggested Reading