Issue #5: Teflon-free Cooking, Re-think Pink, Obesogens

Teflon's Not So Slick After All

by Alicia Voorhies, RN

The last of my Teflon pans has been recycled, but I'll be honest, it wasn't my favorite moment.  I'm not a great cook, so non-stick super powers felt more like a necessity to me.

Even DuPont is Actively Decreasing PFOA Exposure in and Around Their Factories
The EPA asked DuPont, maker of polytetrafluorethylene (PTFE) non-stick coatings, to reduce their PFOA emissions (the precursor to PTFE) by 95% and they agreed.  Multiple studies have shown that exposure to perfluorooctanoate (PFOA) – the chemical used to make the non-stick coating – is linked to several kinds of cancer, infertility, behavioral disorders and lower birth weight.  And because PFOA is considered a persistent bioaccumulative toxic, it never goes away, ending up all around u s, from our drinking water to our breastmilk.

But DuPont swears that PFOA isn't present in the finished coating itself, so that should sum it up, right?  I don't know about you, but I needed to look further into the story.  When I did, I learned that at high temperatures, non-stick cookware may release fumes that can cause flu-like symptoms known as “polymer fume fever” in humans. It's well known that these toxic fumes can kill pet birds too.  A test done by the Environmental Working Group showed that a Teflon coated pan easily reaches and exceeds temperatures at which the coating can break down and release toxic particles after two to five minutes on a conventional stovetop.

That was enough for me.

The Illusive, Safe, Non-stick Egg Pan 

My search for the ultimate in safe cookware sent me in many different directions: from my Grandma's cast iron skillet to new fangled PTFE-free pans.  I never expected to end up deciding to go with 100% glass cookware as my favorite, though.  It's not cheap (even if you buy used like I did), but it's like having three pans in one because it goes from stove to oven to microwave without a hitch.
I'll admit that glass pans don't have the “magic” my previous set of cooking skills required for that perfect egg.  I had to learn new ways of cooking, but I'm so happy I made the switch!

P.S. See my stick-free cooking tips below.

Quick Tips

Cooking Tips for Non-Teflon Pans

1. Temperature is very important when cooking in any Teflon-free pan whether glass, stainless steel or cast iron.  The pan needs to be preheated and hot before you add any food so it will sear.  Searing  causes water to be released and prevents sticking.
2. Let's be honest – Teflon-free pans are going to need a little oil.  So if you're on a low fat diet, just think about the other health beneifits you're getting.
3. My sister's a chef and she hollers when I flip the food to quickly – it needs to brown and/or crisp a bit first.

Check it Out

The New American Diet: How Secret Obesogens Are Making Us Fat

Obesogens enter our bodies from a shocking number of sources other than plastics — natural hormones found in soy-based products, hormones given to animals,  ingredients added to processed foods, and pesticides sprayed on produce. They act in a variety of ways: by mimicking human hormones such as estrogen, by misprogramming stem cells to become fat cells, and possibly by altering the function of genes.

Click here to learn more

Take Action

Think Before You Buy Pink

Pinkwashing has reached a new low this year with Promise Me, a perfume commissioned by Susan G. Komen for the Cure. Promise Me contains chemicals not listed in the ingredients that: a) are regulated as toxic and hazardous, b) have not been adequately evaluated for human safety, and c) have demonstrated negative health effects.
Join Breast Cancer Action and ask Susan G. Komen to stop pinkwashing.

Send your letter now