Using Nonstick Product Safely

How do I use nonstick product safely?



Are products made with nonstick coatings safe?

Yes. Nonstick coatings on cooking products are safe for everyday use. Confidence in the safety and performance of nonstick coatings is based on more than 40 years of laboratory testing and use in home and commercial kitchens. 

Prior to market introduction, nonstick coatings were subjected to exhaustive studies at the Haskell Laboratory for Health & Environmental Sciences. The FDA found them acceptable for conventional kitchen use. In addition, health regulatory agencies throughout the world have approved the use of nonstick coatings on houseware products.

Consumers around the world have purchased billions of pots and pans with nonstick coatings with no record of serious or chronic health effects, including cancer or birth defects.

Are there steps to make sure nonstick product is being used safely?

Product should never be overheated. Low or medium heat is recommended for product with nonstick coatings. The coatings are completely safe for normal kitchen use, including baking or frying, and can be used at temperature up to approximately 500° F (260° C). As is the case with most pots and pans, nonstick product should not be left unattended or allowed to reach extreme temperatures. Additionally, cooking should not be conducted in poorly ventilated areas. Read all manufacturer instructions for proper usage before using any product.

What Is "normal" or "conventional" kitchen use?

Product with nonstick coatings can be used at temperatures up to approximately 500° F (260° C) without damage to the coating. This is well above the temperatures required for boiling, frying and baking.

What happens if nonstick coated product is overheated?

At high temperatures, the quality of the coating may begin to deteriorate --- it may discolor or lose its non-stick quality. This can begin to occur at temperatures above 500º F. If heated to extremely high temperatures beyond 500º F, nonstick coatings may begin to decompose and give off fumes. Fats, butter, or cooking oil will begin to scorch and smoke at approximately 400° F (204° C). Nonstick coatings will not begin to significantly decompose until temperatures exceed about 600° F (316° C) – more than 200º F above the smoke point for cooking oil, fats or butter. It is therefore unlikely that decomposition temperatures for nonstick product would be reached while cooking without first burning food to an inedible state.

How can I prevent nonstick products from overheating?

It is best if a coated pan is used on low or medium heat at temperatures below 500º F. Higher temperatures (above 600º F) can be reached within minutes when dry or empty product is left on a hot burner or in a hot oven. Nonstick product should not be left unattended or allowed to get very hot without food in the pan.

Are fumes from overheated nonstick products harmful to people?

All fumes can be irritating or even harmful. Butter, fats, and cooking oils will begin to smoke at 400° F (204° C), producing fumes that can irritate eyes, nose and throat and possibly cause respiratory distress.

Nonstick coatings will not begin to deteriorate in appearance or performance until the temperature of the product reaches about 500° F (260° C), and coatings will not show significant decomposition unless temperatures exceed about 600° F (316° ). Only at these extremely high temperatures (600º F and above) could nonstick coatings emit fumes that could produce a temporary flu-like condition called "polymer fume fever."

What is polymer fume fever?

"Polymer fume fever" is a temporary flu-like condition that occurs as a result of exposure to fumes from significantly overheated and decomposed fluoropolymer materials. It occurs primarily in industrial settings, in areas where extreme high heat processes such as welding or sintering might occur. "Polymer fume fever" requires no special treatment and has no long-term health effects associated with it.

Can I get polymer fume fever?

Polymer fume fever occurs primarily in industrial settings, in areas where extreme high heat processes such as welding or sintering might occur. In conventional cooking situations, there is no coating decomposition and therefore no potential exposure to polymer fumes. However, if a consumer believes he or she has overheated a nonstick pan, the pan should be removed from the heat source and the area ventilated. Any pan heated to a high enough temperature to result in coating decomposition would likely be so severely damaged it would be unusable thereafter.

Are fumes from over-heated nonstick products hazardous to household pets?

With the exception of birds, household pets are not adversely affected by fumes from overheated nonstick product.

Because birds have particularly sensitive respiratory systems, they can be injured by many kinds of household fumes, including those from aerosol sprays, burning butter or cooking oils, and cleaning solvents.

In addition, with their high respiration rate and low body weight, birds are susceptible to fumes long before they affect people. The affect of any fumes on a bird depends on the bird’s size and species, and the amount and duration of exposure to the fumes.

Bird owners can take several precautions to protect pet birds from cooking fumes: (1) keep birds out of the kitchen; (2) observe good cooking practices and never allow product to overheat; and (3) keep the cooking area well ventilated.

Can I get sick from eating particles of nonstick coatings?

Nonstick coatings are formulated and quality tested to resist peeling or chipping, which will occur if product is misused. However, in the event that particles from nonstick coatings are accidentally injested, there is no danger. These particles are harmless. They are nontoxic and inert. If eaten, they pass directly through the body and are not absorbed. The FDA has stated that eating particles of nonstick coating poses no health threat.

Are all nonstick coatings made with Teflon? 

No. Consumers frequently use the term "Teflon" to refer to any non-stick coating. However, Teflon® is a registered trademark for nonstick coatings and other products. Other companies make nonstick coatings that are marketed under different brand names. While nonstick coatings may vary somewhat, most are based on the same basic materials – known as fluoropolymers.

What are the benefits of nonstick cookware?

Nonstick surfaces provide an easy and convenient way to enhance your cooking experience. Product coated with nonstick is safe at cooking temperatures up to 500° F/260° C, which is beyond the temperature that foods are normally prepared. Nonstick coatings provide effortless food release and easy cleanup, and can minimize the need for added cooking oils. 

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