Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Cooking in Non-Stick or Aluminum Pans, What's the Big Deal?

Over the past ten years or more, there have been concerns about the toxicity of using aluminum and non-stick pans. What's the big deal, right? What actually happens when food is heated in these kinds of cookware? People have been using aluminum for years...

Well, I think this article from TreeHugger.com sums up the information best, addressing health concerns when using these types of cookware.

"Aluminum, a soft metal, is found nearly everywhere in the environment. Most exposures to aluminum occur through ingestion or eating and drinking, with daily intakes generally low, averaging between 30-50 mg. For the typical person, drinking water, medicines and other pharmaceuticals (such as antacids and antiperspirants) are the biggest contributors to aluminum exposures; however, aluminum cookware is also a potential source. As you note, aluminum exposures have raised some health concerns due to the effects of aluminum on the human nervous system and the much discussed (but inconclusive) linkages between aluminum exposures and Alzheimer's disease.

Aluminum exposures from cookware, of which more than half is made of aluminum, is not well studied, but is thought to be a relatively minor source of aluminum exposures. Exposures to aluminum through food can occur when aluminum leaches or otherwise dissolves from the cookware into the food. Leaching is most likely when the foods being cooked or stored are highly basic (like baking soda) or highly acidic (like tomato sauce, lemon juice, oranges, or vinegar). For example, tomato sauce has been shown to contain 3-6 mg aluminum (per 100 g serving) after cooking in aluminum pans, which translates into about one-tenth of the typical daily intake. This leaching of aluminum with acidic foods does not happen with aluminum cookware that is anodized, or electro-chemically processed to seal the aluminum in the cookware. Clemson University Extension’s Home and Garden Information Center tested different cookware types, and found anodized aluminum cookware to be safe. Regardless, it would probably be wise to store tomato sauce and other acidic foods in something other than an aluminum pot."

Using aluminum cookware sounds pretty risky, right? If food is meant to be prepared mindfully and lovingly, for the nourishment of our friends and family, then why would use such questionable wares in our home kitchens? When we know that natural, non-toxic pots, pans and utensils not only don't cause harm, but can actually support our bodies and improve our health, why would we use anything else? Food for thought.

Find the full article from TreeHugger Here

As for non-stick Teflon pots and pans, this snippet from the Environmental Working Group says it best:

"Non-stick surfaces are metal pans (such as aluminum pans) coated with a synthetic polymer called polytetrafluoroetheylene (PTFE), also known as Teflon, a DuPont brand trademark. Learn more about Teflon and its perfluorinated chemical “family” (PFC’s) in our chemical dictionary.

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.

See a graphic of what happens at to Teflon at various temperatures.
Health dangers: When you breathe kitchen air polluted with fumes from overheated Teflon, you're at risk for developing flu-like symptoms (yes, "Teflon flu"). The long-term effects of routine exposure to Teflon fumes, and from Teflon flu itself, have not been adequately studied.

PFCs have been found in nearly all Americans tested by federal public health officials. Chemicals from this family are associated with smaller birth weight and size in newborn babies, elevated cholesterol, abnormal thyroid hormone levels, liver inflammation and weakened immune defense against disease.

Environmental hazards: Manufacturing PFCs and the consumer products that contain them poses great risks to the environment and wildlife. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says PFCs present "persistence, bioaccumulation, and toxicity properties to an extraordinary degree."
Wow, really? Well if you haven't already thrown out your non-stick pots and pans by this sentence, I bet you'll want to. But you know what, don't take my word for it, look into this subject for yourself. Especially if you have children or feed large groups of people on a regular basis. If you care about the well-being of your family and friends, think twice before cooking with aluminum and on non-stick surfaces.

Find the full article from the Environmental Working Group Here

No comments:

Post a Comment