It really isn’t. I try my best. I like to think/hope that most people do. However, with all of the information/misinformation out there, it is incredibly easy to get confused and overwhelmed. In terms of cookware, there have been significant commitments by cookware manufacturers to reduce and ultimately eliminate harmful chemicals from the production processes. I will try not to get too geeky technical about cookware manufacturing but instead try to give you the cliff notes (keep in mind I was a Kitchenware buyer not a scientist).
The Issue– PFOA. PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid ) is a polymer used in the manufacturing process to adhere the nonstick chemicals (PTFE i.e. Teflon) to the vessel (the cookware). The bulk of the PFOA-like emulsifiers are driven off to a fume vent system from the high temperature manufacturing ovens. To further clarify, PTFE (polytetrafluoroethylene) is really just the scientific name for the more user-friendly name Teflon. Many people get PTFE/PFOA and Teflon all confused. Not really sure this helps clear it up. Essentially if PTFE (or Teflon) is cured properly, no traces of PFOA should remain. Key word: should. In my mind, the bigger issue is the residual that the factory workers may be exposed to vs. the tiny amount of residual that may/may not remain on the pans.
The Bottom Line– This goes back to my cooking spray blog. Essentially, if you are concerned AT ALL, you really need to take care of the nonstick surfaces of your pans. This means NO cooking sprays, NO metal utensils and do NOT overheat your pans. Everyone seems to be in such a hurry these days, that they set their pans on high immediately. Take a few extra minutes and cook your food at medium temperatures. It’s better for your pans and for your food/recipe as well.
Alternatives– If you can’t commit to taking care of your cookware you really do have other options:
- Buy Stainless Steel cookware (wthout non-stick)
- Buy Cast Iron
- Buy ‘green’ cookware – The two brands that I am personally familiar with and impressed with are GreenPan and Ecolution. They are completely PTFE (or Teflon) free and do not use PFOA solvents in their manufacturing process.
The Good News- As I stated earlier in the blog, changes are happening. In February 2007, DuPont (the sole manufacturer of PFOA in the US) committed to no longer make, use or buy PFOA by 2015 or earlier, if possible.
Complicated and controversial but important stuff. Happy safe-cooking everyone! Ribbit.