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How safe is Teflon/nonstick cookware?

Teflon is not as slick as we’ve been led to believe.

The Environmental Working Group says that there is a risk of inhaling toxic particles if the pan gets a little too hot or if the nonstick coating has been compromised (scratched or overheated).

Click image to see larger graphic

Just two to five minutes of heating on a regular cooktop can release enough toxic fumes from that nonstick pan to kill a canary, and in fact, many pet birds have succumbed in kitchens from “Teflon flu” or “Teflon Toxicosis”.

What should you do?

Cook with stainless steel or cast iron to avoid the exposure to perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs) used in nonstick cooking surfaces. Fortunately, Glorious One-Pot Meals cook in cast iron Dutch ovens, so we’re safe there!

How to cook more safely with nonstick cookware

Here’s the list of what the EWG suggests to keep you safe from PFCs if you must cook with nonstick cookware:

  • Never preheat nonstick cookware at high heat — empty pans can rapidly reach high temperatures. Heat at the lowest temperature possible to cook your food safely.
  • Don’t put nonstick cookware in an oven hotter than 500 degrees.
  • Use an exhaust fan over the stove.
  • Keep pet birds out of the kitchen — the fumes from an overheated pan can kill a bird in seconds. Learn more here.
  • Skip the self-cleaning function on your oven. It cleans by heating to high temperatures, which can release toxic fumes from non-stick interior oven parts.
  • Choose a safer alternative when buying new cookware.

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