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Myths About Teflon Debunked

Teflon has been a popular and reliable non-stick coating in the commercial food industry for many years. Recently, Teflon toxicity rumours have been an ongoing concern however, there is no reason to be afraid of using Teflon-coated cookware – as long as you use it properly, it is a safe coating, whose excellent non-stick properties will serve you well.

Here are a few of the common Teflon mistruths (and why you shouldn’t worry):

Is Teflon made with harmful chemicals such as PFOA?

Up until recently, Teflon was made using a chemical called PFOA – which scientists believed could be carcinogenic. This sparked widespread fears about using Teflon coated pans for fear of ingesting or breathing in any PFOA. 

Why you shouldn’t worry:

PFOA is no longer used in Teflon today. Leading brand-name Teflon manufacturer Dupont/Chemours removed it from all their products in 2013, and most other manufacturers have followed suit. A PFOA plan signed by Teflon manufacturers in 2010 aimed to eliminate the manufacture of PFOA by 2015.  If you want to be doubly safe, stick with Dupont/Chemours-brand Teflon. You are more likely to be exposed to PFOA from stain resistant fabric and some household cleaners. 

Teflon coating

Will my Teflon-coated trays emit toxic fumes?

A common misconception about Teflon is that it will start giving off toxic fumes once it is heated, which can cause headaches, nausea and respiratory tract damage. 

Why you shouldn’t worry: 

To break down and give off toxic fumes, Teflon has to reach very high temperatures – that is, temperatures above 300°C. To give you an idea of how likely this is, these are the typical temperatures for baking common foods:

  •  •Bread: 200°C
  • •Cake: 180°C
  • •Biscuits: 230°C
  • •Pies: 230°C

Regular baking will not heat your Teflon-coated components anywhere near as hot as they would need to be to degrade. 

Does eating Teflon make you sick?

It is highly likely everyone has ended up with little bits of Teflon in their food at some point. Although people may be concerned about accidentally eating Teflon, there is no cause for alarm if you ingest a tiny flake or two.

Why you shouldn’t worry:

According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), minimal Teflon going through your digestive system will not harm you. It will simply pass through your body undigested. While bits of Teflon in your food are not a cause for concern, if the raw aluminium beneath is exposed, it can react with your food and cause harm. If some of your Teflon has scraped off your pan, you will need to recoat your cookware as soon as possible.

Teflon coated loaf trays

Will I get Teflon flu from using Teflon-coated cookware?

Shunners of Teflon cookware are afraid of the dreaded ‘Teflon flu’, or polymer fume fever, which people can allegedly get from breathing in Teflon fumes. Polymer fume fever consists of flu-like symptoms such as chills, headaches and fever, and can lead to serious issues such as lung damage.

Why you shouldn’t worry: 

Simply using Teflon-coated cookware will not give you ‘Teflon flu’. In all reported cases of ‘Teflon flu’, people had overheated their Teflon cookware (to temperatures greater than 390°C) and had been exposed to this high-temperature Teflon for more than four hours at a time in poorly ventilated areas. Regular use of Teflon cookware at normal cooking temperatures does not result in ‘Teflon flu.’ 

With proper maintenance and use, your Teflon coated cookware is perfectly safe, and its non-stick properties will help you continue cooking or baking with ease.

 Read more:

Why Anodised Cookware is All the Rage

Why You Should Refurbish Your Teflon Cookware

What can I use Teflon for?

 

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