Non-stick, fat free cooking - is it really healthier?

I read a news snippet the other day about a worker that worked in the factory that made non-stick cooking surfaces (you know, the stuff that lines most fry pans these days).  He successfully won a case against his employer as one of the chemicals that is used to make those non-stick cooking surfaces caused him to develop testicular cancer.

Non-stick surfaces are so common in our households these days as we are bombarded with messages to eat less fat.  So a cooking surface that allows clean healthy fat free cooking should be a win-win right?  Not quite.  Non-stick surfaces are metal pans (such as aluminium pans) coated with a synthetic polymer called polytetrafluoroetheylene (PTFE).

Toxic fumes from the PTFE chemical released from pots and pans at high temperatures may kill pet birds and cause people to develop flu-like symptoms (called "Teflon Flu" or, as scientists describe it, "Polymer fume fever"). Ingesting particles that flake off scratched non-stick cookware isn't toxic because solid PTFE flakes are inert.

While there are manufacturers labels that offer warning to consumers to avoid high heat, it is also highly likely that on a conventional stove top the temperature at which the non-stick surfaces are safe can be quickly exceeded. A US independent non-profit consumer group, EWG says that the non-stick surfaces start to deteriorate at about 260 degrees and significantly decompose at 350 degrees.  Searing and grilling meat normally occurs at about 260 degrees and the same temperature when an empty non-stick pan will release a gas that will kill a bird.

You might be trying to stay healthy by using a non-stick cooking surface, but it could be a very unhealthy dose of toxins that you might be unleashing on your body.  Try an stainless steel pan and try using a good healthy fat to cook with.  Your body, and the budgee, will thank you. 


Catherine Craig
Catherine Craig

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