One of the best and most useful inventions when it comes to cooking food has to be the non-stick frying pan! Gone are the days when you had to spend a long time chiselling the remains of a fried breakfast or a pancake off the bottom of the pan – with this revolutionary coating, it is simple to cook the food that you want and even easier to clean it up after!
The most well known name in non-stick cookware is Teflon – however, this is the brand name given to a type of PTFE coating. This is a type of plastic that is then used to coat the pans – you will be able to feel if it is there because it has a shiny, waxy finish to it. However, in recent years, many scientists have been wondering if it is safe to use with food.
Indeed, it is extremely toxic to birds – when heated to a high temperature, the fumes that are given off are deadly to birds, which is why Teflon coated bulbs are not recommended for birdhouses and aviaries. For humans, it is a little more complicated. Ingesting parts of the coating in food is generally agreed to be perfectly safe, as it just passes through the body. However, like birds, it is thought that in some rare cases, humans can also be overcome from the fumes of the coating when it is too hot, which can then cause a problem called polymer fume fever.
Having said this, it is certainly not time to go and bin all of your non-stick cookware! These sorts of cases are rare, and generally only tend to be seen where the exposure to these chemicals is high, such as in factories where they are made in the first place. For the general public making their breakfast the risk of this happening is very small indeed and the pans are considered safe.
If you would prefer to benefit from non-stick cookware but prefer not to risk it, there are other options out there. Ceramic cookware is a great way to get all the benefits but without the coating, as is cast iron.