stick coatings, whether they are on pots and pans or small appliances, pose a
health risk. PFCs (perfluorinated compounds) include chemicals that make
things non stick. Studies have shown that significant amounts of PFCs (in the form
of PFOA) are released under normal cooking temperatures from items that are
nonstick. In this article I’ll cover some solutions for two popular small
appliances with non stick coatings.
When you think of non stick coatings you usually think of Teflon, which is made with a PFC called polytetrafluoroeth (PTFE). Teflon is being fazed out of all consumer products by 2015. However, something chemically similar will and has taken the place of PTFE. Similar chemicals are used to replace banned chemicals because they’ll behave in similar ways.
Of course that also means the replacement
chemicals could have the same health effects as the banned chemicals. There is
a long list of health issues linked to PFOA exposure. And scientists have yet
to find an exposure amount that does not damage your immune system.
I am really embarrassed to admit this but until a couple of years ago my main criteria for selecting a toaster oven was – would it fit on my tiny counter in the tiny kitchen of my tiny house and - could a bake a 12-inch pizza in it? I had always avoided non-stick surfaces on cookware and other small appliances. I had spent months trying to find an oven that did not have the self-cleaning function.
But somehow the toxins in toaster ovens were not on my radar until my previous toaster oven was on its last legs and I began doing research on a replacement. By happenstance I came across some reviewers that were questioning how safe the interiors of these ovens were. So I went in search of a toaster oven that fit my size requirements and was NOT nonstick.
Tah-dah! Here’s what I discovered. The news isn’t good. I could only find one brand of toaster oven that did not have a nonstick interior. According to Waring there is no nonstick coating in any of its ovens. The TCOP650 has a stainless steel interior and the racks are cold rolled nickel. So I purchased the Waring Pro and have been using it for a couple of years with no problems. I really like the convection bake function that allows me to dehydrate food without having to drag out my food dehydrator.
The Waring ovens currently available are:
I have never used an electric grill because it has been impossible to find one without a non stick coating. And considering the high temperatures used for grilling, non stick was too toxic. However, there are a couple of new grills available now that are promising, non toxic options.
I found one non toxic grill that uses a stainless steel grate for the grilling surface. It’s called the Livart LV-982 Electric Barbecue Grill. This grill gets good reviews and is reasonably priced.
Cast iron is another non toxic grilling surface. Of course there are lots of stove top grills available. Unfortunately, when it comes to electric grills with cast iron cooking surfaces I could only find one option, the Chefs Choice Professional Cast Iron Indoor Grill.
Oster now has a line of ceramic coated, electric appliances, including grills of different sizes. According to Oster, its non stick Duraceram coating is PFOA and PTFE free and won’t flake or peel.
I remain skeptical about ceramic coated products in general and these products in particular. The main concern I have is that Oster will not disclose what’s in the ceramic and since it’s a coating there is the potential for flaking. Since Oster admits the non stick coating eventually wears away- where does it go? Does it go into your food when you use the grill?
The other concern I have is the lack of
information I found on the website of the manufacturer of Duraceram, a company
called GMMDL. A big red flag was the section of the website that claimed the
PTFE used to make Teflon is perfectly safe and we’ve all just overreacted.
pots and pans and small appliances that you use to prepare your meals
can increase your exposure to toxins. Healthy non toxic cooking includes avoiding
plastic components and non stick cooking surfaces to protect your
health. It’s also helpful to approach new products with a healthy dose of skepticism.