Cookware Caution: PAU experts warn against ‘lurking dangers’ in kitchen
When food comes in contact with certain metals, it can introduce harmful elements in our meals, say experts
In an eye-opening revelation, experts from the College of Community Science at PAU, shed light on the potential health hazards of the cookware present in our kitchens.
Professors Deepika Bisht, Sharanbir Kaur Bal, and Sukhdeep Kaur Mann from the department of resource management and consumer science caution against the often-overlooked dangers of using certain types of cookware.
The experts emphasise that when food comes into contact with certain metals, it can introduce harmful elements into our meals. Excess cadmium, nickel, chromium, and copper have been linked to kidney dysfunction, cancer, paralysis, stomach ailments, and heart issues. Scientific research has established a clear link between elevated copper levels in children’s bodies and an increased risk of mental diseases.
“At home, we use various metals and polished utensils for cooking, serving or storing leftovers. Research has shown that some elements of these metals get mixed in food especially during cooking and later when serving or storing food. So it is very important for us to know what the potential dangers of different types of cookware are” said Sharanbir Kaur Bal citing the study conducted recently.
Experts sharing insights explained that from the ever-popular aluminium to the seasoned cast iron, each material brings its own set of benefits and potential risks. Sharing a guide to making informed decisions about the cookware lining your kitchen cabinets, the experts from department of resource management and consumer science cautioned, “Aluminium cookware is a staple in ordinary households, known for its lightweight nature, quick heating, and affordability. However, users must exercise caution, as aluminium easily leaches into food, especially in prolonged cooking or acidic environments like tomatoes and citrus fruits.”
To mitigate risks, Bisht advised to keep aluminium utensils in good condition, opt for shorter cooking times, and avoid highly acidic foods in these vessels. She revealed that the amount of aluminium in cooked vegetables can triple during the cooking process.
Sukhdeep Kaur Mann said, “Anodized aluminium cookware emerges as a solution to some of the pitfalls associated with regular aluminium utensils. With improved strength, toughness, scratch resistance, and easy cleaning, anodized aluminium offers a safer option, reducing the corrosion concerns linked with traditional aluminium cookware.”
Moving onto the latest rage in cookware industry, cast iron experts shared that while moderate iron content is acceptable, excessive amounts can lead to toxicity. Proper maintenance, including the application of unsalted oil to prevent rust, is crucial for the longevity of cast iron cookware.
Highlighting the risks involved with stainless steel cookware, experts cautioned, “Stainless steel utensils, known for their strength and durability, may harbour increased levels of iron, nickel, and chromium in the food cooked within them. While small amounts of nickel and chromium are generally deemed safe, excessive amounts can trigger allergies. Careful washing with mild detergents is recommended to avoid an increase in toxic elements.”
The data for the present study was collected from 80 homemakers comprising of 40 rural and 40 urban respondents. The respondents were selected randomly. Rural data was collected from randomly selected villages that is Ballowal and Gujarwal of Pakhowal block of Ludhiana district. Similarly urban homemakers were randomly selected from Krishna Nagar and Bhai Randhir Singh Nagar of west zone of Ludhiana.
“Non-stick cookware, featuring teflon coatings, offers convenience but comes with potential risks. Scratching can lead to the release of toxic gases, including cancer-causing agents. Elevated levels of aluminium, chromium, and cadmium have been found in vegetables cooked in non-stick pans, surpassing acceptable limits. It is recommended to use such utensils with caution, avoiding overheating.” said Deepika Bisht.
Cautioning against copperware, experts said that copper cookware, heating rapidly and uniformly, should be used cautiously. They shared that coating is essential to prevent the release of toxic elements, particularly if cooking vegetables. Uncoated or unpolished copper pots may significantly increase the presence of various toxic elements in the cooked food.
Cheap plastic should be avoided for serving or storing hot food, and it is not suitable for use in microwaves. If plastic is reused, prompt refrigeration after cooling is advised to minimize potential health risks.