Paleo, clean eating, organic, natural, vegan, there are a lot of diets out there making big promises. What we eat has become a big deal and even controversial at times. But one very important step in our diet often seems to be forgotten, what we are cooking in.
Even the healthiest of diets can benefit from the use of safer cookware. Polytetrafluoroetheylene (PTFE) also known as Teflon, a DuPont brand trademark, has been shown to cause some pretty serious health problems.
“Toxic fumes from the Teflon chemical released from pots and pans at high temperatures may kill pet birds and cause people to develop flu-like symptoms (called “Teflon Flu” or, as scientists describe it, “Polymer fume fever”). Ingesting particles that flake off scratched non-stick cookware isn’t toxic because solid PTFE flakes are inert.
Manufacturers’ labels often warn consumers to avoid high heat when cooking on Teflon. 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.” – Environmental Working Group
If you are still using these non-stick pots and pans don’t worry, just start a plan to replace them. You don’t have to do it overnight, each switch will make a difference.
There are also somethings you can do to reduce the impacts of your current cookware.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. I was not paid for this post and all thoughts are my own.
Reduce Risk When Using Teflon
1 ) Never put your Teflon pots and pans in the dishwasher. This can cause the non-stick finish to breakdown more quickly.
2 ) Always use silicone or wood utensils with Teflon, never use metal! Metal can scratch the finish causing it to flake off.
3 ) Replace the pieces with the most damage first. Damaged products are more likely to cause problems so they should be first on your list to replace.
4 ) Avoid using Teflon products with really high heat. This causes even more issues than lower temperatures.
5 ) If you have pet birds, make sure they are not in the room while you are cooking with Teflon pans.
Making the Switch
As you are ready to make the switch there are somethings to look for. Stainless steel is one great option. It’s easy to find and to use. If you want non-stick look for ceramic, Teflon-free pans or try cast iron. Well-seasoned cast iron is a really good and safe non-stick option.
Teflon isn’t only in our cookware, it’s in clothing, fast food wrappers, waffle irons, and more. The Environmental Working Group has a great infographic that will help you avoid Teflon.
Have you switched away from Teflon yet? What are your favorite safer products?
Original Photo Credit: Didriks