The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and the National Institute of Nutrition have recently revised their dietary guidelines, including recommendations regarding the use of non-stick cookware. These guidelines aim to raise awareness about potential health risks associated with improper use of these cooking utensils.

Potential Risks of Teflon-coated Cookware

Non-stick pans are commonly coated with Teflon, a chemical compound composed of carbon and fluorine, prized for its ability to prevent food from sticking and ease cleaning. However, misuse of Teflon-coated cookware can pose health hazards. Heating these pans above 170°C can release harmful fumes, typically occurring with prolonged exposure to high heat.

Safe Usage Guidelines

ICMR recommendations outline measures to mitigate health risks:

Avoid heating an empty non-stick pan, as it can rapidly reach high temperatures. Cook over low to medium heat to prevent overheating the pan. In case of fumes, utilize kitchen ventilation, such as an exhaust fan, to disperse them. Opt for wooden or plastic utensils to prevent scratching the Teflon coating. Regularly inspect the pan for signs of damage, such as peeling or deep scratches, indicating deterioration, and replace if necessary.

Cleaning and Maintenance

Proper cleaning methods are essential to preserve non-stick cookware:

Avoid abrasive cleaners or scrubbing pads. Use a soft sponge and mild soap for gentle cleaning. Thoroughly rinse and dry after each wash to prevent food or soap residue buildup.

Alternative Cookware Options

For those concerned about the risks associated with non-stick coatings, alternative materials such as stainless steel, cast iron, clay, and stone offer safer alternatives. While these materials may require more oil or fat for cooking, they are better suited for high-temperature cooking and pose fewer health risks than Teflon-coated cookware. Adhering to these guidelines ensures safe use of non-stick cookware and encourages exploration of healthier cookware options, aligning with ICMR’s objective of promoting healthy eating and lifestyle habits.