Shopping Smart & Cooking Safe Go Hand in Hand

March 10, 2011

Are nonstick pans safe to cook my nutrient rich meals? Depends on the cooking technique

We are always emphasizing the best foods for our health and budget as well as the many benefits of cooking at home, so SupermarketGuru thought it was time to talk about cookware; specifically pots and pans with nonstick surfaces.

Nonstick cookware is almost a must for any healthy chef or home cook who wants to make healthy foods. The surface does not necessitate as much oil or other fat to be used in the cooking process and when you’re all done cooking, clean up is a cinch.

The safety of nonstick cookware has been the subject of debate in recent years due to concerns that the surfaces might emit toxic fumes, harmful to our health, and our pets, specifically birds. One thing we do know is that if a nonstick pan is heated too quickly or too hot, there is a risk of chemicals being emitted. In terms of the chemicals getting into our foods, the FDA suggests it’s very unlikely that a significant amount of chemicals migrate from pans into food.

Here are recommendations for using nonstick cookware safely:

Do not heat over 500 degrees Fahrenheit. Nonstick pans should not be used for cooking techniques such as broiling or searing, as these usually require heating the pan to high temperatures.

Never preheat an empty nonstick pan. Empty pans can reach high temperatures very quickly, which could pose a risk. Never leave nonstick pans (or any pan for that matter) unattended while on a heat source.

Keep your kitchen ventilated while cooking with nonstick cookware - turning on the fan or open a window.

Do not use aerosol spray oils on your nonstick cookware. The tiny droplets hide in the surface and create a build up.

Be careful not to damage the surface of the cookware: do not use metal utensils, nor wash with steel wool or abrasive cleaners, also don't stack nonstick pans on top of each other.

Do not put your nonstick cookware in the dishwasher because high heat and harsh detergents will corrode and dry out the surface. If you see any noticeable chips in the surface, its time to toss the pans!