The Searing Issue

Brits unclear how to cook safely with traditional non-stick pans

  • 70% of UK adults don’t know that if overheated, traditional non-stick pans can release harmful toxins
  • 37% own blistered or peeling pans – an indication they may have overheated
  • Four in ten households only replace a pan when it breaks, rather than when the surface starts to flake
  • Over half take environmental issues into consideration when buying products for the home

A new study reveals many Brits are unaware that using traditional non-stick frying pans in the wrong way could be a health concern. Traditional non-stick pans can blister, flake and release harmful toxins when overheated, but 70% of Brits are oblivious to these risks.

The research also found that 62% of people fry food regularly and that a worrying 37% own blistered, peeling or scratched pans; a sign they may have been overheated. On top of this, four in ten households only replace a pan when it breaks, rather than when the surface starts to deteriorate.

The findings, from new research commissioned by ceramic non-stick cookware company GreenPan, suggests that despite the nation’s growing interest in health and wellbeing, many Brits are unaware of how to use traditional non-stick cookware safely and could be harbouring health hazards in their kitchen cupboards.

Traditional non-stick pans are heat resistant to only 260°C – a temperature that an empty pan can reach in just three minutes. However, when questioned more than one in four did not know it was possible to overheat a pan. While traditional non-stick cookware poses no health concerns if used safely, when overheated it can release toxic fumes.

There is also a lack of consumer awareness around the chemicals used during the manufacturing process of traditional non-stick pans, such as PFOA and PFAS. The survey found that 92% of people had never even heard of these chemicals.

Ceramic non-stick cookware however, offers a safe alternative for those worried about overheating traditional non-stick pans and concerned about maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

Commenting on the research findings, food safety expert and member of The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health, Dr Lisa Ackerley said: “People usually associate food safety risks with bacteria or viruses, but ironically, heating pans up to high temperatures to cook food thoroughly could lead to a different type of risk if chemicals are released from the pan.

It is astonishing that 37% of people in the survey owned blistered, peeling or scratched pans and 70% are oblivious to risks associated with damaged pans. When searing meat or fish, a hot pan is often desirable but it needs to be safe. To avoid any problems, consumers should be careful of the temperature their pan reaches when cooking – as long as this does not rise above 260°C there is no danger of toxins being released. Ceramic non-stick cookware offers a good alternative to those looking to reduce their exposure to chemicals, as they can be heated up to 450°C without blistering or releasing harmful toxins.”

Wim de Veirman, Co-founder of GreenPan, commented: “We know that many people use traditional non-stick pans and consumers do not need to be unduly worried about their pan as long as they use them safely. But this research shows that people are unaware that if their pan gets too hot it can produce dangerous toxins. If you were to heat a pan so it is searing hot before cooking a steak for example, the likelihood of it reaching 260°C is high. A surprising number of people even own pans which are flaking and while not necessarily dangerous, why would you want to add bits of the pan’s coating to your food? / 01483 736 913