Fifty years of consumer use, along with laboratory testing and published peer-reviewed research, has affirmed that cookware made with Teflon™ nonstick coatings is safe for both consumer and commercial use at normal cooking temperatures.
Before the commercial introduction of Teflon™ nonstick coatings for cookware, extensive laboratory testing was conducted to examine the safety of these coatings. Regulatory agencies in the United States and abroad have reviewed these findings. For example:
- Regulatory agencies such as the European Food Safety Authority, French Food Safety Agency (ANSES), the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have affirmed their positions that these nonstick coatings are safe for intended use in cookware.
- On its web site, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has stated that it "does not believe there is any reason for consumers to stop using any consumer or industrial related [nonstick coated] products."
- In 2003, The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission rejected a petition to require a warning label for nonstick coatings.
To date, cooks in more than forty countries around the world have purchased over two billion pots and pans with Teflon™ brand nonstick coatings for home and commercial use. In all of this experience, there has been no record of any significant human health problems.
Bird owners should be aware that there are potential dangers in the kitchen. Cooking fumes, smoke and odors that have little or no effect on people can seriously sicken and even kill some pet birds, often quite quickly. Also cooking fumes from any type of unattended or overheated cookware, not just nonstick, can damage a bird's lungs with alarming speed. Dr. Karen Rosenthal, DVM, offers tips to keep pet birds safe.
The recommended maximum use temperature for cookware with Teflon™ nonstick coating is 500°F (260°C). For your reference, the table below lists typical cooking temperatures that are appropriate for the food you are preparing:
|212||100||Boiling point for water|
|325-400||163-204||Normal range for baking cookies, cakes etc.|
|400-470||204-243||Normal range for pan-frying meat|
|450||232||Roasting poultry or vegetables|
* Chemours, the producer of the Teflon coatings, does not recommend using cookware coated with Teflon™ nonstick for broiling or cooking at temperatures typically used to broil food.
Heating nonstick cookware above 500°F (260°C) can discolor the surface of the cookware or cause it to lose some of its nonstick properties. Since butter, fats and cooking oils start to smoke at 400°F (204°C), overcooked foods would most likely burn to an inedible state before the nonstick coating would be affected. If an empty nonstick cookware pan is accidentally heated above 660°F (348°C), a temperature that far exceeds what food preparation calls for, the nonstick coating may begin to deteriorate.
In rare instances, a person may accidentally ingest a flake of nonstick coating from an aged pan. The coating flake is non-toxic and would pass through the body without being absorbed. Based on the inert characteristics of the coating, data indicate that there are no health effects from the incidental ingestion of pieces of nonstick coating.
Tips for Using Nonstick Cookware
As for any consumer product, there are several best practices and practical tips for the safe use of nonstick coated cookware.
- Follow manufacturer instructions.
- Use low or medium heat for cooking.
- Never preheat your cookware on high heat.
- Always turn on an exhaust fan or open a window when cooking.
- Use a stove burner that matches the size of the bottom of the pan.
- Consider using nonstick cookware to prepare meals with less oil.
- Never leave heated cookware unattended.