A non-stick pan is a staple in every modern kitchen. And why shouldn’t it be? For me, it’s a great miracle worker and I am always amazed by how it has made cooking eggs a breeze! It makes for easy clean-ups and promotes the use of less butter and oil; therefore, using it should make us healthier, right?
I would have said yes to this right away but recent studies have come to light that using non-stick cookware can be a health hazard. It turns out that when a Teflon pan is left overheated to at least 5000 Fahrenheit, it releases a toxic fume called perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), a known carcinogen for animals. Aside from cancer, PFOA can also cause liver and immune system damage, as well as birth defects in experiments made to laboratory animals. When inhaled, these toxic fumes can also cause polymer fume fever. Birds are highly susceptible to this type of fever because of their low immunity to respiratory diseases. That is why pet owner organizations have advised bird owners against putting bird cages in kitchens and also suggested to build a well-ventilated kitchen to prevent pets from smelling the fumes.
According to the American Cancer Society website, there is still little scientific data to be found whether it can actually cause cancer to people. Despite this less-than reassuring statement from ACS and also DuPont’s own statement from the Tefal website debunking these allegations as mere “myths” and that their products remain safe, I for one still believe that the use of non-stick pans is still a cause for concern. The Big C is not something to be ignored at and if there is an infinitesimal chance that a substance is carcinogenic (even if it’s just for animals), I will avoid it. Better to be safe than sorry.
Toss those non-stick pans out. So you may have buyer’s remorse, if you’re going to use the pan, keep it to a low or medium flame; don’t overheat it. If the pan’s coating has been damaged, or if it has been used for more than 3 years, throw it out. Avoid using a dishwasher to clean it; hand wash it instead using a mild detergent. Use sponge to cleanse it and do not use a steel wool or any other abrasive cleaner to avoid scratching the surface. Do not use metallic utensils together with the pan to prevent the Teflon from breaking away from the pan. If you’re on the lookout for a good alternative to Teflon, check what the cookware is made up of before making the purchase, make sure it does not contain PFOA. There are many alternative non-stick pans to choose from, with coatings that contain silicon, ceramic, aluminium, copper, and titanium. Or you may opt to use a traditional cookware such as a cast-iron skillet or a carbon steel wok. Just make sure to read through the labels and do your research before making your purchase.