Thursday, 3 May 2012

No, non-stick cookware won't give you cancer!

Yup, I am 100% cookware geek! I am always surrounded by cookware in my daily life. Not only do I use it on a daily basis, I SELL it. Since I am a cookware salesperson, I've to have knowledge of the pots and pan I am informing people about. (I work for Meyer Cookware, the USA'S largest cookware manufacture!)

There are many misconceptions about non-stick cookware: being "cheap," not long-lasting, and won't "brown" as well as stainless steel. Trust me, after cooking in the food industry for 8 years,being an avid cook at home, attending culinary school, selling cookware, I know what to look for so your pans won't die on you!

Here are answers to many commonly asked questions people ask me about non-stick cookware:
*Note: "non-stick cookware" can also be called:
-Coated cookware
-Hard anodized non-stick (which I recommend!)
-Finished cookware

1) Non-stick coatings cause can cancer since they contain PTFE (Polytetrafluoroethylene) and PFOA (Polymer Optical Fiber Amplifier), RIGHT?

Answer: Nope. Why?  "POFA is NOT part of the finished product of non-stick cookware or bakeware. While used during the manufacture process of the product and while there is a small trace in the finished non-stick liquid when it is shipped to the applicator, all of the PFOA is driven off in the curring process. The finished pan does not contain any measurable PFOA after proper curing." ( "The Guide to Cookware and Bakeware" by CMA: Cookware Manufacturers Association.) Thus, when the non-stick coating is PROPERLY applied to the pan itself, it is usually done at 800 degrees F, at that tempature any chemical/human/animal will die.
But, I know I cannot "change a person's mind." If they do not want to use non-stick pans, let them buy stainless steel. Yet, don't forget all the other non-stick coating surfaces people use on a daily basis: waffle makers, panini presses, egg pans, and electric griddles. Most of us have consumed food that was made on a non-stick surface.

2) Isn't POFA/PTFE present in other products I use? How can I reduce my level of all these chemicals???

Answer: YUP. More POFA/PTFE is present, in items, than non-stick cookware:
pizza boxes, frozen food boxes, take out boxes, french fry boxes, carpet cleaners, some furniture finishes, cosmetics, nail polish, and microwave popcorn bags.
Want to live a more "chemical free" lifestyle? I recommend: working out on a regular basis, drinking water, cooking more meals than ordering take-out, and avoid pre-package foods.

3) So, what makes a non-stick  "better" than one another?

Answer: The coating. What people do not realize is there are MANY companies out there that make non-stick coatings. DuPont was the first to invent it and owns many non-stick patents.  Good cookware lines will work with good non-stick coating companies for their pans. Look for a line that will advertise who makes their non-stick coatings.

4) What is exactly in a non-stick coating?

Answer: It is composed of 4-5 major ingredients: ( "The Guide to Cookware and Bakeware" by CMA: Cookware Manufacturers Association.)
1) A resin or binder that adheres to the pans surface
2) A pigment to color the coating
3) The release agent - PTFE or silicone compound
4) The carrier - either an organic solvent or water that "carries" the ingredients but which evaporates when the coating is cured at high heat
5) Option reinforcing agents to provide wear protection

5) I heard "ceramic" non-stick coatings are 100% chemical free! Why are not they more popular?

Yes, there are non-stick coatings that are "ceramic" based, which is  "more green" and better for the enviroment, it works just as well as a "regular non-stick" pan, and easy to manufacture. The downfall: not very durable and chips pretty easy. Thus, with regular use, it will "die" faster than a hard anodized non-stick pan.

6) Which is better: non-stick in a stainless pan or non stick in a hard anodized pan?

Nonstick in a hard anodized pan. The coating "adheres" better to hard andoized aluminum than stainless steel, no matter how "amazing" your coating is.

7) What is the proper way to clean your non-stick pan?

-Always hand wash
-No non-stick sprays....EVER! This includes your bakeware! (Non-stick sprays contain an ingredient called propellent, which is present because of the aresol can. The propellent really "sticks" itself to your pots and pan, causing a caramel gunk build up. Always use real fat when cooking!)
-Med-high-medium heat only. It is rare that you need high heat when cooking. Constant high heat kills almost any pan.
-Have a stain? Make a paste with baking soda and water with "rub" the stain, leave it on for 15 minutes, and wash off. Repeat if needed.

8) Why do restaurants always carry stainless steel, no non-stick cookware?

Restaurant cooking is 100% different than cooking at home. In restaurants, you use constant high heat and need to wash it in a professional dishwasher, which is VERY hot and strong. Almost all non-stick cookware will die in that enviroment. Even stainless steel pans will eventually warp and becoming uneven.

What to look for when buying non-stick cookware:
-Buy hard anodized non-stick! (Not just "non-stick" cookware)
-Buy one with a silicone or stainless steel handle that you like
-Buy a line that works with a great non-stick coating company to create their non-stick finish

Overall, cookware should be fun and not a headache or mess. Knowing basic facts will help you choose the RIGHT cookware for your needs. Any more questions, please ask, I love to help.

Happy Baking!

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