m & i try to find ways to eat healthier. one of the things that had us a little concerned is teflon. when we cook, we like using non-stick surfaces because it makes it easy to cook and easy to clean. as amateur cooks (although professional chefs also do it) we make mistakes — we burn what we make, we scratch our pots and pan, etc. once teflon surfaces are damaged, unwanted chemicals is cooked into your meal and digested in your tummy. not healthy. but we don’t have unlimited funds to replace every pot or pan when we make one tiny scratch on our kitchen equipment! so what can we do?
here are a few things we currently do:
- don’t leave dishes you’re preparing unattended to prevent burning — your food as well as the pot/pan!
- replace metal spatulas and cooking utencils with wood (preferable) or plastic utencils to reduce scratching your teflon surfaces.
- when you replace your cookware, consider investing a few items in a cast iron cookware. they are not cheap, they take some care and while iron can also seep into your food, at least it is something healthy! they are also heavy but think of it as a little workout while you’re cooking. today, we invested in a beautiful Le Creuset Kiwi 6-3/4 quart oval french oven. hello beautiful, welcome to our home. as soon as i got home, i read the manual, washed it and then made my first pot of curried winter vegetable stoup. YUM!
m put together a more comprehensive list of tips when using teflon which i have included below:
Teflon: in your kitchen and in your blood
S heard some bad news about Teflon so I did a little reading about it. Here’s what I found:
- Basically whatever you use for cookware could leach into the food no matter what you do. This is bad when it’s teflon but the most traditional alternative, stainless steel, includes a mixture of metals that you don’t want in your dinner either.
- Teflon should be used only at low temperatures and might as well be avoided for things that don’t need non-stick properties (like boiling pasta).
- The major danger seems to come from the fumes, not the coating itself. One of the articles points out that this can be a problem during the winter when most people don’t open their windows. (If you’re like us you might simmer a lot of soup in the winter.) Elements in the fumes have been proven to cause flu-like symptoms in humans and cancer in lab animals. (A link to cancer in humans is currently under study.) So there should be ventilation and there should not be birds around.
- The safest option is cast iron, although that requires conscientious seasoning after use. (It’s not that iron doesn’t leach into food, but most Americans don’t get enough iron anyway so it’s actually considered a potential source of nutrition.)
- Anodized Aluminum is also named as relatively safer than Teflon.
- Avoid using high heat for anything.
- Try to have ventilation when using Teflon.
- As your Teflon cookware becomes damaged or burned or just worn out, consider replacing the ones you need for heavy non-stick use with Anodized Aluminum.
- For things that you use less frequently (like big soup pots), you might consider replacing them with cast iron. I’ve also read that cast iron is preferred by gourmands because it’s easier to carmelize things.
Long article on Teflon. Bottom line is that partly because of health risks and partly because of proven harm to the environment, the industry has agreed to voluntarily phase out Teflon products by the year 2015:
Which Type of Cookware is Safest for Cooking?
Does Teflon Cookware Pose Health Hazards? Are Other Cookware Alternatives Safer?
By Larry West, About.com
Health Canada – Consumer Products Web site
A Guide to Using Nonstick Pans
by Geoffrey R. Harris, MD
more about Le Creuset products