Most non-stick pans and skillets are coated with PFOA – Perfluorooctanoic acid or PTFE – polytetrafluoroethylene. PFOA is a petroleum-based product developed in the 1960’s that when applied to metal creates a slippery consistency.
Like many products we use including soap, PTFE was in fact an accident developed by scientist Roy Plunkett in 1938 while make a new CFC refrigerant. PTFE was used in WW II as a lubricant for sensitive components on the Manhattan Project to build a nuclear weapon. The first use of PTFE as a coating on cookware was in 1954 under the name Tefal. Today, most of the non-stick coating on pans is made by Dupont, under the name Teflon.
With the growing concerns about the danger of non stick cookware related to PFOA and PTFE, companies like Quisinart, are developing new, natural, safer and healthier alternatives to Teflon. Quisinart developed a ceramic-based non-stick coating for its Green Gourmet cookware called Ceramica. While PFOA and PTFE are not found naturally on earth, the Cuisinart Ceramica technology is a natural PFOA and PFTE-free ceramic based non-stick coating made from materials that are found in the earth.
The first known risk of using non-stick cookware coated with PFOA or PTFE is that these substances are not found naturally on earth, and today little is really known about the long-term health risks of cooking on PFOA or PTFE coated non-stick pans. How much of these dangerous compounds are transferred to humans during the cooking process? It is believed that small traced are absorbed into the food, and into our bodies when digesting food cooked in Teflon coated non-stick pans.
What is known is that when a Teflon-coated pan is scratched or cracked, the Teflon coating can break apart and get mixed into the food substance. When heated above 450 degrees F, PTFE and PFOA begin to break down into a gummy semi-liquid product that can be easily absorbed into our bodies. If you fry food or cook on high or medium high heat, it is best to use stainless steel or cast iron pans, since they are designed for higher heat, and enameled cast iron coating will not breakdown, like Teflon.
In a case against DuPont in 2009, the EPA mandated that all Teflon coated pans have a warning label about the potential health risks of using Teflon coated pans.
If you are concerned about the danger of non stick cookware coated with Teflon, check out Quisinart Green Gourmet Non-Stick Cookware here.