You may be getting more than just delicious food if you cooked it with your non-stick frying pan.
Those were the latest findings from the FDA that confirmed that our food supply harbors toxic chemicals. Roughly 98 percent of the US population have PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances), commonly used in non-stick cookware, in their blood and research has revealed that the main source of exposure comes from our diets.
The new findings were presented earlier this week at the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry’s annual European meeting in Helsinki. The FDA explained that three studies examining the prevalence of PFAS informed their conclusions.
PFAS, as a group is composed of roughly 5,000 synthetic compounds and these hazardous substances, have been widely used in contact paper, non-stick cookware, cleaning products, food packaging, and other industrial products. These same chemicals have made their way into the food and water supply but have also contaminated livestock and the sewage sludge utilized for fertilization.
These “forever chemicals” have been linked to some cancers, liver damage, thyroid disease, high cholesterol, infertility, obesity, as well as a host of other health problems.
Extremely high levels were discovered in seafood, meats, and even chocolate cake found in grocery stores around the country. Even some produce from farmers’ markets, such as leafy greens, pineapples, and sweet potatoes, contained PFAS, although in lesser amounts. In the case of leafy greens, a PFAS production facility was within a 10-mile radius from where they were grown.
Even if PFAS production has been banned, they still persist in our environment and have lasting effects that are clear to see. However, it doesn’t stop there. Non-stick cookware and food packaging also use PFAS to repel water and oil although, in return for this convenience, we may be eating these chemicals in our next meal. Cooking contaminated food on a contaminated surface is a one-two punch for toxic chemical exposure.
CNN reports that the FDA will display its findings on a webpage on PFAS that will be updated this week.
These findings on toxic substance exposure are disturbing and should inform our food choices and how we cook them. Organic food might be a good choice since PFAS tend to accumulate more in the edible parts of a plant.
You may also want to check if your cookware and bakeware were produced using PFAS. Non-stick coatings (such as Teflon) used to be produced with a common PFAS that is now banned but the chemicals that replaced them may still be hazardous. This University of California-Berkeley guide may help in your decision-making.
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