kitchen cookware

How to Keep Questionable Chemicals Out of Your Holiday Cooking

It's prime season for cooking and baking; don't let toxic pots and pans spoil the festivities.

How to Keep Questionable Chemicals Out of Your Holiday Cooking

Great holiday recipes deserve cookware that won't leach unhealthy chemicals.

RODALE NEWS, EMMAUS, PA—There's no holiday that focuses more on food than Thanksgiving. While most of the attention goes to turkeys and the eternal cranberry sauce debate, you might want to take stock of what you're cooking in. "People are out there making all this great-tasting food, but they're cooking it in toxic pots and pans," says Wayne Feister, DO, clinical assistant professor at the Ohio University College of Osteopathic Medicine and a general practice physician.

So as you're gearing up for the biggest food holiday of the year—or if you're planning major meals for the December festivities and beyond—make sure you've got the right tools for preparing it.

What to Avoid

Nonstick Pans: Nonstick cookware is risky business. Sold under trade names like Teflon, Excaliber, and Silverstone, the coatings are made with a chemical called polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) which itself is made from perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA). PFOA has been linked to male infertility, pregnancy difficulties, high cholesterol, and thyroid problems.

"A lot of times nonstick pans will say they have no Teflon, but they're still coated with PTFE," says Dr. Feister, "so it's basically Teflon." He adds that PTFE coatings have been found to emit six different toxic chemicals and have even been known to trigger something called "Teflon flu," characterized by headaches, backaches, and chills, when the pans are heated to a mere 100 to 104 degrees. PTFE-based coatings emit ultrafine particulates when heated to 464 degrees (when frying meat, a pan can reach anywhere from 400 to 470 degrees), and PFOA is released when the pans reach 680 degrees. Getting your pan that hot is easier than you think. Dr. Feister notes that tests by Dupont, which manufactures Teflon, have found that a pan preheated for 3 minutes and 20 seconds can reach 736 degrees.

PTFE-based nonstick coatings are sold under a number of brand names besides those mentioned above, so avoid anything advertised as Fluron, Supra, Greblon, Xylon, Duracote, Resistal, Autograph, Unison, Swiss Diamond, and T-Fal. This includes cookware as well as small appliances like toaster ovens.

Anodized Aluminum: Another material on Dr. Feister's watch list is anodized aluminum. Though it's an excellent heat conductor, aluminum has been linked to bone and brain damage and has been found to interfere with the central nervous system, he says. "Some studies have shown that it does cause cancer in estrogen receptors in human breast tissue," he adds. In cookware, it reacts with highly acidic or salty foods, imparting an undesirable metallic flavor to food, so manufacturers started to "anodize" it. In the anodization process, a piece of aluminum cookware is dipped into an acid bath, through which an electrical current is sent, he says. "That essentially causes controlled rusting," he adds, which forms a hard coating that prevents food from reacting with the metal. "But repeated exposure to acidic foods can cause deanodization," he says, "and you don't want bare aluminum touching your food." And if that's not enough, now Calphalon, the leading manufacturer of anodized cookware, has started adding PTFE to its coatings. It's unlikely that you'll find aluminum pots and pans that aren't anodized unless you frequent antique shops, but nonanodized aluminum cookie sheets are very common (more on those a little later).


Published on: November 18, 2010

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Great information! Glad you

Great information! Glad you all put this out there. My mom and I started a company that sells non-toxic kitchen products, including cookware. We have stainless steel and cast iron cookware because it is known to be safest! Here is our site if you ever want to check it out :)

I've been watching out my

I've been watching out my preparations because I see to it that my foods are healthy. I couldn't take chemicals a chance to enter our bodies. Anyway, if you need any plumbing services have a visit at Plumber Richmond VA.

Nice topic. As the yuletide

Nice topic. As the yuletide season arrives, more dangerous chemicals spread on the market. Better be aware of the products that you buy.

Since I'm spending so much

Since I'm spending so much good for my holiday, I try to make something miracle with kitchen cookware as a matter of fact, I'm so proud that I can be the best for it and there is always a matter of attention that will draw out. Me as Elena of The Vampire Diaries I use to spend my time in my shooting for the season 3 episodes and I enjoy it. Together with my boss I try to make everything online even my cooking session since all my fans in Vampire Diaries season 3 is waiting for that one hence I believe that in this kind of kitchen cookware another pleasure will be discover.

Thanks for the good post.

Thanks for the good post. I'll prepare a huge food budget for Thanksgiving, also for Christmas. free shipping

fyi--aluminum is not a heavy metal

Dr. Feister, aluminum is NOT a heavy metal, it's one of the lightest. Atomic weight is about 28. Compare to lead with an atomic weight of 208 or so:

Its toxicity, especially with non-reactive foods, is not established at all and it's probably been over hyped.

Cast iron, in first world countries, can be toxic when used with reactive (acid) foods by causing too much iron to be absorbed, especially with men.

There are many mistakes in this article. I'd double check from reliable sources before I took it seriously. Especially the statements about anodized aluminum being dangerous.


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