Overheating non-stick cookware risky, say ICMR guidelines, here's how to safely use them | Health - Hindustan Times
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Overheating non-stick cookware risky, say ICMR guidelines, here's how to safely use them

By, New Delhi
May 17, 2024 05:22 PM IST

Do not leave your empty non-stick pan on a burner for a long time and avoid overheating them, say ICMR guidelines.

When it comes to use of non-stick cookware, the recently released ICMR guidelines urged people to follow usage and cleaning instructions thoroughly to avoid exposure to toxins. Wearing out of Teflon coating is a big red flag to stop using the pan and discard it.

Non-stick pans coated with Teflon are a risk if they are heated to temperatures greater than 170°C, mentions the guidelines(Freepik)
Non-stick pans coated with Teflon are a risk if they are heated to temperatures greater than 170°C, mentions the guidelines(Freepik)

Non-stick cookware is usually coated with Teflon, a synthetic chemical made up of carbon and fluorine atoms. While at normal temperature, cooking in them is fine, but at high temperatures, the coating can produce toxins or poisonous fumes, which can lead to contamination of your food with PFAS, micro- and nano plastics. (Also read: ICMR says repeated heating of vegetable oils may increase cancer risk; shares correct way of reusing, storing oil)

ICMR along with National Institute of Nutrition released 17 new dietary guidelines for Indians across different age groups to help them make better food choices. The guidelines aim to provide evidence-based recommendations to help Indians make informed food choices to maintain good health and prevent malnutrition in all forms. In addition to dietary recommendations, the guidelines provide information on physical activity, hydration, healthy weight management, food safety and food labelling. (Also read: ICMR says avoid milk tea; suggests when to drink tea and coffee, raises concern over excess consumption in new guideline)

The guidelines also emphasized on the importance of healthy cooking practice for overall health and discussed various cooking and pre-cooking methods from soaking, popping, sprouting, malting, fermenting to blanching, steaming, frying, roasting, and slow cooking.

"Non-stick pans coated with Teflon are a risk if they are heated to temperatures greater than 170°C. This might happen if an empty pan is left on a burner for a long time. In this case, the coatings can give off irritating or poisonous fumes. The usage and cleaning instructions should be strictly followed for non-stick cookware, and they should be discarded when the coating is worn out or damaged," the ICMR guidelines mentioned.

How to use non-stick cookware safely

  • Preheating of an empty pan must be avoided as it can heat up very fast and this will result in release of toxic fumes.
  • Cooking on low to medium flame is ideal.
  • Use of chimney or exhaust fan is advised while cooking in non-stick pans.
  • Avoid scratching the non-stick coating while washing. Wash gently with a soft sponge and soapy, warm water.
  • Replace cookware when coating deteriorates.
  • It is better to cook in stainless steel, cast iron, stone and ceramic cookware.

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