How Kitchenware Can Affect Your Health
When choosing and using cookware and utensils, you may take quality, durability and design into account. You may even consider their eco-friendliness but do you give much thought to how they might affect your well-being?
Lead glazing on some ceramic cookware may, in certain circumstances, can leach into food. Children are particularly susceptible to lead poisoning. Acidic foods such as tomatoes, citrus fruit and foods containing vinegar can cause more lead to be leached from the ceramic. Be wary of ceramic dishes or cookware bought from overseas, or antique ceramics – they may not meet the current food safety rules.
Copper pots and pans are popular due to the even distribution of heat they provide. Unlined copper cookware may introduce copper into food, which can result in nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea. Fortunately, most copper kitchenware sold today is lined inside (for example with stainless steel). However, over time, the coating can break down, especially if the lining is scratched or abraded.
Teflon (a brand name for polytetrafluoroethlyene or PTFE) is a common, non-stick coating used in modern cookware. In normal circumstances, Teflon is convenient, safe and non-toxic, however it is designed for cooking at low to medium heats. If heated excessively, the non-stick coating starts to deteriorate and may release irritant fumes. Always consult manufacturers’ guidelines on maximum safe temperatures for non-stick cookware, and try not to leave pans unattended on the hob.
Damaged or scratched cookware is more likely to cause problems when the inside surface is affected, so it’s often best to avoid using metal or hard plastic utensils (spatulas, spoons, ladles) when cooking or dishing up. Instead, opt for utensils made from wood, silicone or bamboo. If the coating of a pot or pan is damaged, starting to peel or wear away, then it’s time to replace it.
Wooden chopping boards have an undeniable appeal, but are more difficult to clean effectively – consider a plastic, marble or glass board instead. It’s also a good idea to have separate chopping boards for different uses: One exclusively for raw meat, poultry and seafood, and another for vegetables, bread and other foodstuffs.
If you’ve used the same kitchenware or utensils for years, it may be time to replace them!