Healthy Diet

Are Your Nonstick Pans Safe?


Are nonstick pans safe?Nonstick cookware is an essential tool in a healthy-eater’s kitchen and nonstick means a lot less calories and butter in food preparation.

I am very lucky to have such smart and caring readers. One reader from Canada wants me to encourage my readers to stop using nonstick pots and pans, due to impact on the environment when heated and health issues from eating food cooked on the pans.My husband Mr. Wonderful has long known that my cooking is a hazard to both the environment and to my family. I guess the rest of the world has found out.

This reader suggested I switch to ceramic cookware.


I realized it was time for a little research on nonstick pan safety. Here are some facts (and yes, I love the chemistry part of this):

1. In early 2006 the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) asked American companies, including Teflon’s maker DuPont, to work towards the elimination of PFOA (perfluorooctanic acid ) by 2015. PFOA has been labeled a likely carcinogen.

2. Above certain temperatures food is burned and the nonstick coating will break down and release toxic fumes. These temperatures are hotter than the smoke point of cooking oils. Any surface that’s subject to extreme temperature will give off toxic gases. According to DuPont, cookware with Teflon nonstick coating has a recommended maximum use temperature of 500 degrees Fahrenheit and that significant decomposition of the coating will occur only when temperatures exceed about 660 degrees Fahrenheit, which could easily happen if nonstick pans were left dry or empty on a hot burner.

3. You also hear about PTFE (polytetrafluoroethylene). PFOA is used to make the PTFE of Teflon in every day speak.

So are my favorite nonstick pans safe?

The Good News: My favorite grill pan is a Non-stick Calphalon cookware pan. It uses a proprietary polymer that is not Teflon. Teflon is under suspicion as a human toxin when burned or flaked off a pan.

The Bad News: The Calphalon may contain polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE).

Under normal conditions Calphalon non-stick cookware is completely safe to use, and poses no serious health risks. The substance used to make non-stick coatings that has received adverse press coverage is perfluorooctanic acid (PFOA). During processing, non-stick coatings are exposed to high temperatures that eliminate PFOA from the coating. There is no PFOA remaining in the coating.

So what to do? I use my favorite Calphalon grill pan on a regular basis and it makes my cooking fast and healthy.

Tips to Keep Your Nonstick Pans Safe

1. Use a lower heat setting than you normally would. Calphalon cookware heats and cools more quickly than other cookware because it’s made of heavy-gauge aluminum. It’s also important to use the right heat setting for the cooking method you’re using (not too high)2. If you see the nonstick coating starting to “flake” off, then get rid of the pan

Using Nonstick Cookware Safely if You Still Choose to Use It:

• Never leave nonstick pans unattended on an open flame or other heat source
• While cooking, don’t let temperatures get hotter than 450 degrees
• Don’t use metal utensils on nonstick cookware
• Wash nonstick cookware by hand using nonabrasive cleaners and sponges (do not use steel wool)
• Don’t stack nonstick cookware on top of each other
• Keep pet birds out of the kitchen

As I examine my pans, I will be checking out ceramic cookware as a choice. Stay tuned.

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