A few years ago there were some big concerns when it came to the safety of nonstick cookware. Naturally this safety issue is still fresh in peoples minds when it comes to buying nonstick cookware, so we decided to try and address this concern as best we could.
In 2006 some researchers found that there were trace elements of a particular chemical in certain nonstick cookware coatings, which could be harmful to humans. This chemical is known as PFOA, otherwise known by the full name of Perfluorooctanoic acid. This is a synthetic chemical used in a variety of applications, and there are some health concerns related to humans which are linked to this chemical. PFOA is used during the manufacturing process of cookware to bond the nonstick coating to the pot or pan. PFOA is often present in PTFE (otherwise known as Teflon), and therefore you will also see many brands claiming to be PFOa and PTFE free. The researchers found traces of this PFOA by doing a variety of tests, some of which have been deemed to be very far fetched such as actually grinding up a pot to find the traces of this material. Some of the other tests exposed the chemical when the cookware was heated at high temperatures, or once the nonstick coating started to break down. This essentially means your average user wasn’t affected by this, as most manufacturers explain that you shouldn’t use more than a medium heat with your nonstick cookware.
PFOA is known to be linked to cancer, low birth weights and even high cholesterol. Obviously exposure to this chemical is not good for us, and the 2006 a study highlighted some of the ceramic cookware dangers that exist by being exposed to this chemical.
After this study was revealed, the FDA took a long and hard look at this issue and came to a conclusion. They decided that coatings that contained this chemical were safe to use, as it was only found in very small trace amounts. They did however caution that cookware with this type of coating should only be used on medium heat, and should be disposed of straight away if it became scratched or chipped. This seemed like a fair analysis, and at the same time the first steps were taken to eliminate all traces of PFOA from cookware by 2015. If you do have some older nonstick cookware, then there are some steps you can take to make sure that you don’t get exposed to this chemical.
- If your nonstick coating is chipped, scratched or damaged you must dispose of it immediately (unless it is PFOA free).
- Never use metal utensils with your cookware.
- Never use steel wool to clean the nonstick coating. Use sponges, and let the cookware soak in water to loosen burnt food.
- Don’t exceed temperatures of 450F as this could cause the coating to break down.
- When storing the cookware, do not pile them on top of each other as this could damage the coating.
Since that study was first revealed in 2006, manufacturers have been struggling to ensure that their cookware no longer contains this chemical. On many product pages you will see mention of the product being “PFOA free” which is a good sign. If there is no indication of this on the product details, then it might be worth investigating further to see if the brand is safe to use or not. We are almost at the deadline of 2015 for a PFOA free cookware future, and most manufacturers are compliant at this point in time. Although the FDA has approved PFOA contained cookware as being safe to use, it is definitely worth checking if you current cookware is PFOA free or not. If you are looking at getting a new set of cookware, then you must check whether or not it is PFOA free.
We don’t have a long list of PFOA free manufacturers to list unfortunately, but there are one or two particular models we can recommend. Earlier this year we reviewed the Stonedine cookware set, and the Flavorstone Gourmet set, both of which are 100% PFOA free. If you are looking for a safe set to use, then these two cookware sets might be a good place to start.