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People have been using nonstick pots and pans all over the world for quite a time now and to be exact, for more than five decades nonstick cookware has been a regular part of the kitchen. So, it is quite perplexing that there is still a debate about its safety.
The nonstick cookware is made up of nonstick coatings which are made of Teflon. Now, Teflon has remained somewhat controversial over the years due to which many people claim that since nonstick pots and pans are made from Teflon, so they are not safe. Teflon is a synthetic resin which is majorly used to coat cooking utensils. There are claims or opinions that nonstick cookware is harmful and is linked to serious health conditions such as cancer. On the other hand, some people assert that nonstick cookware is safe and poses no threats.
So in this article, we are going to prove whether it’s a factor a myth.
What is nonstick cookware?
Pots and pans are coated with a material called Teflon, which allows the cookware to possess nonstick properties. Teflon is a synthetic resin which is a type of polymer and is used in a broad spectrum of applications. But most commonly used in cookware because of its certain properties. Teflon basically, provides a non-stick smooth surface which has no friction due to which it was found to be very applicable to cookware. Teflon coated cookware is very easy to clean because food does not stick to nonstick cookware. Also if you do not consume oil or consume little oil in your diet, then nonstick pans are the great choice for you.
Though nonstick cookware is used in almost every household recently, it has come into the limelight again for being harmful to health. Concerns are primarily on chemical called Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), which is considered to be highly hazardous and was used in the production of nonstick cookware, but it is not used today.
Teflon and PFOA Exposure
After research proved that PFOA was really harmful and had health risks, its usage was stopped in the production of nonstick cookware. So, all Teflon products are free from PFOA as of now.
PFOA was used in the production of Teflon up till 2013. While it was claimed that during the manufacturing procedure, PFAO burnt out from the cookware thus, the products were PFOA free. This claim was later proven to be wrong as small amounts of PFOA remained in the final products.
Exposure to PFOA is linked to many health conditions which include cancer, kidney diseases, infertility, liver disease, and low birth weight. According to research, PFOA was found to be in the blood of people who used nonstick cookware before 2013.
So this spurred an outcry against the usage of nonstick cookware products because of potential health risks, so the US Environmental Protection Agency directed the cookware manufacturing companies to eliminate the use of PFOA in Teflon products.
Dangers of Overheating the Nonstick Cookware
Although it is considered that Teflon is safe to use and is a stable compound. But, at higher temperatures (more than 300 Centigrade or 570 Fahrenheit), it is believed that Teflon coatings start to break down which release toxic and hazardous chemicals into the air.
If an individual inhales the toxic fumes, then it can cause polymer fume fever which is also known as Teflon fever which is very harmful but poses short-term effects. Someone exposed to the fumes of overheated Teflon can also cause lung damage.
Health effects of overheated Teflon are very negative, but if one does not overheat the cookware, then it poses no threat. So it is always advised to use pans on low or medium heat only and so that the cookware does not get overheated which can trigger Teflon to break down?
Benefits of Nonstick pots and pans
Nonstick cookware has many benefits over many of its alternatives such as cookware which is made from stainless steel.
One benefit of using nonstick cookware is that you can cook your favorite dishes without a drop of oil. It can be treated as people who are health conscious and want to avoid the intake of oil in their diet to remain fit.
The surface of the nonstick cookware has a nonstick coating which does not allow food to stick to the pan while cooking.
Another advantage of nonstick cookware and which is most adored by the women is very easy to wash and clean. Unlike traditional cooking utensils which absorb a lot of oil for cooking thus making them difficult to clean, nonstick utensils do not allow the food to stick thus making them easy to wash and clean.
Nonstick utensils are also scratch resistant because of special nonstick coating on them. However, it is important not to use spoons made of stainless steel or other material which can damage the coating. So it is always suggested to use nylon spoons when dealing with nonstick cookware.
Among many benefits of nonstick cookware, there is another great feature which can be found in nonstick cookware and it is the uniform distribution of heat. It lets the food to cook more quickly thus saving your gas because of even distribution of heat.
Tips to Minimize Your Risk When Cooking
Though nonstick cookware is now believed to be completely safe to use you can minimize the risks with following tips such as:
- Using the nonstick pans or pots at low to medium temperature. Be cautious of the fact that you do not overheat the utensils.
- Do not use nonstick pans over the power burners.
- Keep your kitchen well ventilated so that all of the fumes are taken out.
- Replace old nonstick cookware with a new one. It is always better to retire the old cookware with the new one after some time.
- Do not scratch or chip the nonstick pans with steel spoons or other materials which can deteriorate the coating.
Always Use – Best quality pots and pans
One piece of advice which is very important is that always make sure that you use best quality pots and pans from recommended manufacturers, in order to make sure that you are not at risk of Teflon related issues.
Alternatives to Nonstick Cookware
Well, nonstick cookware is in fashion now, and people are using it more than ever before. But if someone has second thoughts about using Teflon coated nonstick cookware then surely, there are lots of alternates.
You can use cookware which is made of stainless steel, as utensils made of stainless steel are known to bear high temperatures without any risks. One can also use the cast-iron cookware which has natural nonstick properties and can withstand great temperature.
Talking about alternatives, you can use stoneware also, which has been under use for thousands of year and still it is considered to be very effective. Stoneware is also reported to have health benefits. Ceramic cookware which is considered to be a new introduction in cookware is also underused and has nonstick properties, but it is believed to be a bit delicate.
The Bottom Line
So whether you want to use Teflon made nonstick cookware it is totally up to you because everyone has his or her own preferences. Nonstick cookware has a fair share of advantages and considering the fact it is free from the hazardous PFOA; it is safe to use.
One has just to remain vigilant that the Teflon cookware is not overheated and should be used at low to medium temperatures.
Else, Teflon cookware is very convenient to use and poses no health issues if used properly.