Fact or Fiction: Are Nonstick Pans Safe?

According to a new report, certain nonstick cookware releases “forever chemicals” into the food we eat. Here’s what you need to know to keep your family safe.

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Whether you’re the primary cook in the house or only reach for a pan to scramble some eggs, chances are you grab what you thought was perfectly safe nonstick cookware. But according to a recent investigation by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), those nonstick pots and pans could actually contain harmful chemicals.

Here’s everything you need to know about whether nonstick pans are safe, and why you should care. Plus, we offer tips for spotting the difference between safe and toxic nonstick cookware.

What the Study Found About Nonstick Pans

Based on its findings, the FDA reported that PFAs (a group of 5,000 synthetic chemicals that are also known as “forever chemicals“) are present in about 98 percent of Americans’ bloodstreams. One of the major sources is the food we eat, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, since dangerous substances are absorbed into food from things like nonstick cookware. Since the 1940s, PFAS chemicals have been used in nonstick cookware because of their ability to repel oil and water. Find out what are forever chemicals and how to avoid them.

What You Need to Know About Nonstick Pans

While the FDA says that the levels of PFAs are not yet high enough to be harmful to our health, that doesn’t mean that the recent results aren’t troubling. After all, PFAs — which can flake off into your food when you’re cooking over high heat — have been associated with serious health risks including cancer, infertility and kidney or liver damage.

And even though scientists don’t know the exact effects of PFAs on our bodies, it’s always smart to avoid exposing yourself to toxic manufactured substances when possible.

How to Choose A Safe Nonstick Pan

As a result of the study, many PFAs have been banned from pot and pan production. If you’re in the market for a new set, avoid aluminum and Teflon, which can contain high levels of PFAs and other chemicals.

What Are the Best Nonstick Pans That Are Nontoxic?

When looking for non-toxic nonstick pans, choose ones made of ceramic, cast iron, stainless steel or tempered glass. Also choose nonstick coatings made without PFOAs, PTFEs, and other PFAs. Be sure to steer clear of items labeled Teflon or “nonstick” that don’t indicate further what they’re actually made of.

Here are some of our go-to nontoxic pans:

How To Take Care of Safe Nonstick Cookware

Make your safe nonstick cookware last longer and prevent it from releasing any potentially harmful chemicals by:

  • Cleaning them properly with a gentle sponge. We don’t recommend taking a steel-wool scrubber to your coated pans unless they’re stainless steel.
  • Washing your non-toxic cookware by hand whenever possible. Many brands of non-toxic cookware say that they are dishwasher safe, but to prolong their lifespan we recommend washing them by hand.
  • Avoid metal utensils when cooking even if your cookware says it’s scratch-resistant. We suggest playing it safe to ensure your cookware will last for years by opting for wooden or silicone cooking utensils.
  • Avoid cooking at extreme temperatures. Read the instruction manual to make sure you know what temperatures your cookware can safely handle.

Taste of Home
Originally Published on Taste of Home