Ask Annie B., For The Home

Non-stick, Safe Pots and Pans

ceramic pots

Ask AnnieDear Annie, I’ve heard that non-stick pots and pans are not safe to use. Is this true? And if so, what kinds of cookware should I use instead? Sally K, UT

Dear Sally, Yes, get rid of all your coated non-stick pots and pans! And, don’t stop there. (Sorry!) Be on the lookout for the non-stick chemical polytetrafluorethylene (PTFE), used on cookware, and stay away from it. Watch out for “non-stick” labeling and ask if the coating is PTFE, no matter what the brand. Most manufacturers offer a variety of different types of pots and pans. PTFE is an endocrine disrupter and suspected carcinogen.

You’ll also want to stay away from aluminum pots and pans as the acid in foods can leach the heavy metal from the pan to the food. Aluminum is suspected in causing various neurological problems, including Alzheimer’s. Reportedly anodized aluminum does not leach aluminum because the treatment yields a hard, nonreactive substance that forms a tough coating.

When you do replace your pans, choose cast iron, stainless steel, or enamel iron.

The more inert the cookware, the better.

Use These Non-Stick, Safe Pots and Pans
* Glass – the most inert
* Stainless steel
* Well-seasoned cast iron
* Porcelain-coated cookware, also called enamel
* Anodized aluminum

Avoid These
* Non-stick coated surfaces
* Aluminum (acidic foods can cause aluminum to leach from the pan)
* Plastic-handled cookware

Here is Why
When heated to between 680 and 930F–scorching heat–the fluoropolymers used in chemical nonstick finishes degrade into several undesirable substances, including trifluoroacetate (TFA), a subsance highly toxic to plants. Other problematic chemicals recently found in almost all blood samples taken by the Red Cross include perfluorinated acids and perfluorooctanic acid (PFOA), used in many nonstick and stainproof formulas. PFOA was found in the umbilical cord blood of 99 percent of 30 babies born at Johns Hopkins Hospital in 2004.

An independent scientific review panel advising the EPA announced that PFOA should be considered a likely carcinogen. In a voluntary agreement with the EPA, eight major manufacturers have agreed to eliminate 95 percent of PFOA emissions by 2010, though they will continue to use the chemical in making non-stick finishes.

Have a question for Annie? Write to her at annie [@] thetruefind [.] com

By Annie B. Bond, the best-selling and award-winning author of five healthy/green living books, including Better Basics for the Home (Three Rivers Press, 1999), Home Enlightenment, Clean & Green (1990), and most recently True Food (National Geographic, 2010 and winner of Gourmand Awards Best Health and Nutrition Cookbook in the World). She has authored literally thousands of articles and was named “the foremost expert on green living” by Body & Soul magazine (2009).

G.gauthier05” by rosier – Own work. Licensed under GFDL via Wikimedia Commons –