Tuesday, July 27, 2010
How Safe is your Cookware?
How safe is your cookware?
Today I'm sharing an article in full. I don't usually do this, and I might be busting a copyright. But it covers the safety of assorted cookware surfaces, something I'm asked about a lot. Cookware surface materials make their way in minute amounts into your foods, so this is important. Not all surfaces are created equal when it comes to safety.
This is not the article I dream of writing - where once and for all I review all the supposedly safe cookware out there and figure out which ones really, truly are safe.
I'm thinking I am never going to get around to that.
In the meantime, this article is from the website The World's Healthiest Foods, http://www.whf.org/, and it goes through the environmental and health issues related to different cookware material. It's very informative! If there's a copyright issue, I hope WHF will forgive me for spreading the good word.
And I highly recommend you check out their site if you haven't already, and get on their list for all the important nutrition and health information that they'll send your way.
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Healthy Food Tip
Is anodized aluminum cookware better than non-anodized?
Concerns with aluminum cookware come from the fact that measurable amounts of aluminum can migrate from the pot into the food. Several research studies have confirmed migration of aluminum from conventional aluminum cookware at a level of concern for our health. Aluminum is included in the 2007 list of top priority toxins in the United States (a list put out every year by the Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry), and aluminum has been clearly identified as a toxin for the human nervous system (neurotoxicity), immune system (immunotoxicity), and genetic system (genotoxicity).
Anodization is a process in which chemical baths are used to prepare the surface of aluminum to receive an electrical charge that will increase the thickness of the oxide layer and make it harder, more durable, and less likely to corrode. Anodized aluminum is definitely less reactive than non-anodized aluminum and will leach less aluminum as a result, provided that the surface has not been damaged. Although it is more difficult to damage the surface of anodized versus non-anodized aluminum, its surface can still be damaged.
Although the non-stick properties of anodized aluminum have been a selling point for this cookware to consumers, most cookware in the marketplace using anodized aluminum does not feature this material on the surface that is in contact with the food; instead, they feature a specialized non-stick surface that may have potential toxicity problems much greater than anodized aluminum. Many manufacturers are taking advantage of the durability and quick heat-transfer properties of anodized aluminum by using this material on the exterior of their pots and pans, but they are leaving the non-stick tasks to another material (not anodized aluminum).
Given all of the potential health risk factors listed above-together with the environmental problems created by aluminum mining and manufacturing-I still favor stainless steel and porcelain-coated pots as my first choices for stovetop cooking. Copper-bottomed pots or pots with a layer of copper in between the stainless steel are also fine. Some stainless steel cookware now comes with a layer of anodized aluminum sandwiched inside, and that cookware would also be fine from a health standpoint, even though the environmental problems with aluminum would remain.
It's important to wash all cookware carefully. For example, take care not to scour stainless steel pots too harshly when cleaning them as once the surface of the stainless steel has been damaged, the pot will leak nickel into the food that is being cooked. Stainless steel pads or brushes, for example, are too harsh in my opinion to risk using.
Inside the oven, stainless steel, tempered glass designed for oven use (for example, oven-safe Pyrex), and non-leaded ceramic are all good choices.
Rajwanshi P, Singh V, Gupta MK, et al. Leaching of aluminium for cookwares: A review. Environmental Geochemistry and Health. 1997;19(1):1-18.
Gramiccioni L, Ingrao G, Milana MR, et al. Aluminium levels in Italian diets and in selected foods from aluminium utensils. Food Additives and Contaminants. 1996; 13(7):767-774.
If you have any questions about today's Healthy Food Tip Ask George Your Question