Nonstick cookware has seen a meteoric rise in popularity over the last few years due to its convenience and ease of use. However, some have expressed concerns about its safety – particularly with regard to chemicals used for creating its nonstick coating. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at this topic and separate fact from fiction.
What Is Nonstick Cookware?
Nonstick cookware is coated with a special layer that prevents food from sticking to the surface. This is typically composed of polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), better known by its brand name Teflon. Other nonstick coatings may come from ceramic or diamond-infused materials.
The Safety of Nonstick Cookware
Concerns have been raised over the safety of nonstick cookware, particularly with regard to its chemical coating. One particular chemical, perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), once employed in Teflon production until 2015, has been linked to various health problems, including cancer and developmental delays.
However, it’s essential to note that PFOA is no longer used in the production of Teflon or any other nonstick coatings. In fact, the entire industry has committed to phasing out its use by 2015 in favor of polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), a safer chemical.
Concerns have also been raised regarding the safety of nonstick cookware when heated to high temperatures. When exposed to these extreme temperatures, nonstick coatings can release hazardous fumes which could be inhaled; this condition is known as polymer fume fever and may manifest flu-like symptoms like fever, chills, and coughing.
However, it’s essential to be aware that polymer fume fever only occurs at temperatures above 500 degrees Fahrenheit – well above the typical cooking temperature for most foods. Furthermore, this concern only arises if the nonstick coating has been overheated or damaged in some way.
How to Use Nonstick Cookware Safely
Nonstick cookware is generally considered safe, but there are steps you can take to ensure its safe use:
1. Use low to medium heat
High heat can damage nonstick cookware and cause the coating to break down, releasing hazardous fumes. To maximize longevity and minimize this risk, cook with nonstick cookware at low to medium temperatures.
2. Don’t use metal utensils
Metal utensils can damage the nonstick coating, leading it to break down and release hazardous chemicals. To avoid this issue, utilize wooden or silicone utensils when cooking with nonstick cookware.
3. Don’t overheat the cookware
As previously discussed, overheating nonstick cookware can cause it to release hazardous fumes. To avoid this from occurring, cookware should only be heated using low to medium heat settings and with constant monitoring of the temperature.
4. Use a ventilated kitchen
If you are worried about the fumes released by nonstick cookware, make sure your kitchen has adequate ventilation. Open windows or turn on a fan to help move air around.
Nonstick cookware has long been considered safe, provided it’s used properly. While there have been concerns about the chemical composition of nonstick coatings, the industry has taken steps to eliminate harmful elements like PFOA. By following the safety tips outlined in this article, you can enjoy all of the convenience of nonstick cookware without worrying about its safety.