You make an effort to cook with olive oil, you never cross-contaminate your cutting boards, and you're sure to eat your veggies. But is your cookware making your meal unhealthy?
The Chattanooga Times Free Press reviewed the safety issues associated with various cookware materials.
Pottery, for example, can contain lead that can enter food contained in it. The article says that pottery made in the U.S. must meet safety guidelines, and that you should not prepare food in pottery made from Mexico or Latin America because of possible lead levels. Don't ignore labels; if it says Not for food use, don't use the item for food.
Anodized aluminum is generally considered safe. The article says that manufacturers claim that a final stage in the anodization process seals the aluminum, preventing any leaching into food.
Cast-iron is a classic; it conducts heat evenly and is safe to use.
Copper, another good conductor of heat, is usually lined with tin or stainless steel. The Food and Drug Administration cautions against using unlined copper for general cooking because the metal is relatively easily dissolved by some foods with which it comes in contact.
The coating of non-stick pans can chip off over time and come into contact with food. While there is some controversy over the health effects of this, the FDA has said that these particles pose no health hazard. In addition a non-stick pan can give off fumes when heated for long periods of time at high temperatures.
Stainless steel cookware is made from a combination of iron and other metals. The result is a durable product that is safe to use. The article says that most stainless steel cookware is made with copper or aluminum bottoms.
Some iron and steel cookware is manufactured with enamel coating. Enamel-coated cookware is stain and scratch resistant, does not absorb odors, and is safe to use. In the 1970s, toxic cadmium was an issue in the pigments of imported enamel cookware, but after an FDA ban, manufacturers stopped using pigments with cadmium.
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