Fluoride Action Network

Ditch the Teflon, Say Hello To Safe Cooking

Source: Eco Child | Originally published in Food and Recipes, Green Home and Green Cleaning
Posted on March 20th, 2009
Industry type: Perfluorinated chemicals

In her article, “The Essential Resource for Green Family Life: Healthy Child Healthy World“, Jennifer Lance mentioned the Healthy Child Healthy World’s advice on getting rid of Teflon in your kitchen. Teflon is the DuPont brand name for polytetrafluoroethtylene, or PTFE, a type of PFC that is used as a non-stick coating for most cookware. A PFC means that it is a chemical compound composed of fluorine and carbon atoms If you walk down the aisle at any store that sells pots and pans, or even in your pantry at home, I am sure you have noticed those wonderful non-stick pans that make cooking and clean up a breeze. Yes, they are wonderful because you do not need to use as much butter, oil, or whatever else you add to prevent food from sticking to the pan but have you ever wondered what happens as that nonstick coating scratched? What exactly is it that you could be adding to your food?

PTFE is made with perfluorooctanoic acid, or PFOA, which the EPA has begun investigating because, “it is very persistent in the environment, it was being found at very low levels both in the environment and in the blood of the general U.S. population, and it caused developmental and other adverse effects in laboratory animals” (EPA article on PFOA). Not exactly something you want to add to your diet. Not long ago Robin Elton wrote an article titled, “PFCs May Impact Fertility”, I think the title of the article speaks volumes on the danger of conventional non-stick coatings for women of childbearing age, but the danger does not end there since PFCs are considered a “likely carcinogen” by the EPA. So, the next time you start cooking up dinner what should you use?

With the economic decline people are starting to rediscover the joys of cooking and baking at home. People are even beginning to growing their own vegetable gardens as mentioned in a a recent article from the Associated Press, “Dollars from Dirt: Economy Spurs Home Garden Boom”. So what is a home cook to do knowing that Teflon is a danger to everyone’s health?

There are a number of options to Teflon coated pans and cookware:

  1. Glass, there is a lot of bake ware and even some pots are available in glass and it is very durable.
  2. Stainless steel, which is easily cleaned although beware that discoloration can occur with high heat and pitting can also occur with extensive contact with salt water.
  3. Cast iron is a durable option that when cared for properly can last a decade and sometimes longer, I know my parents still have their cast iron skillet and dutch oven after all this time. To find out how to care for cast iron I suggest visiting Lodge Cast Iron Cookware’s website they have care instructions for various styles. You can even season an old cast iron pot that you find at a thrift store to make it as good as new as long as there are no cracks or nicks in the surface.
  4. Pyrex bake ware, which a blog entry from Healthy Child Healthy World notes is “completely nontoxic and made from abundant natural minerals”.
  5. And now many companies including Cuisinart, which has their Green Gourmet line of pots and pans, and Green Pan, with Termolon coating, are making pans that have non-stick coatings that do not contain PTFEs.

While the cost of new pots and pans can be daunting, the price is easily paid off when you choose to cook at home and this savings can be increased by choosing to grow your own produce. Just think of the possible healthcare savings by preventing contact with dangerous chemicals. You can also begin to consider the beauty of knowing the ingredients going into your meal and instead of it being prepared by a stranger in a restaurant that the meal has been made with love and care in your home.