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Ceramic Cookware Dangers

Sonia Nair Nov 8, 2018
While safety of the food we eat is a general cause of concern, awareness about the dangers posed by cookware, often takes a back seat. Let's see some information about ceramic cookware safety.
The history of cookware is linked to the origin of pottery. Earlier, utensils made of stone and other materials were used for cooking. But once pottery was invented, earthen cookware got popular. Even today, such cookware is widely used in many different forms, like ceramic.
Though ceramic cookware is considered safe for cooking and storing food, these utensils may also pose some dangers. Let us take a look at the risks associated with ceramic cookware, which is believed to be one of the safest options for cooking.

Cookware Safety

While buying cookware, most of us look for durability, affordability, convenience, looks, etc. The main thing we forget is to check the safety aspects. In comparison to food safety, very few are aware of the concept of cookware safety. With increasing awareness about Teflon coating in non-stick cookware, many have resorted to other options, like ceramic.
One of the main safety concerns regarding cookware safety is with regard to leaching. The materials used for making the utensil, may leach into the food cooked or stored in it. This may happen due to the heat used for cooking, or certain types of food, or both.
The process, called leaching, may become harmful, if the molecules that leach into the food are toxic or unhealthy. So, toxicity is the main risk posed by cookware. While aluminum, copper, and non-stick cookware are said to be harmful, others, like ceramic cookware may also pose some risks.

Why Ceramic Cookware is Unsafe?

Toxic Elements

Lead and cadmium are the harmful elements found in ceramic cookware. The level of leaching is found to be higher in foods cooked at higher temperatures. Acidic foods, like tomatoes, vinegar can increase the rate of leaching. These metals are highly toxic, and if exposed to them on a regular basis, symptoms may develop and may even result in brain damage.

Leaching from Glazing

Toxic metals like lead and cadmium can be found in the components used for making the utensil, or in glazing and decorating the same. In some countries, special laws have been enacted to assure the safety of cookware, including the ceramic ones.
If the ceramic product has toxic elements above the allowed limits, it must have a label stating that it is meant for decorative purposes and not cooking. Studies show that glazed ceramic cookware is mainly associated with the risk of leaching toxic metals.

Study Results

Various studies have been conducted with regard to the link between elevated blood lead levels and the use of glazed ceramic cookware. It was found that more than 50% of the cookware had toxic elements in amounts that exceeded the permissible limits suggested by the FDA.
According to the study, regular use of unsafe ceramic cookware would result in excessive blood lead levels. Wear and tear to the glazing may lead to an increase in the rate of leaching.

FDA Stance

According to the FDA, some of the imported ceramic cookware brands are found to have high levels of toxic elements that can leach into food. While those imported from Japan and the United Kingdom were found to be safe, most of the ceramic products from China, Mexico, Hong Kong, etc., were found to contain lead in excess amounts.
In general, ceramic cookware produced by large manufacturers in the United States are considered safe, as they follow the regulations regarding lead content in utensils. As most of the imported ceramic cookware do not meet the FDA specifications, avoid use of such utensils for cooking or serving purposes. Buy such products from trusted manufacturers only.
Go for those that are certified to be safe, and avoid cheaper versions. Follow the care instructions provided by the manufacturer. Avoid using harsh soap, chemicals, and scrub pads for cleaning the cookware. Avoid use of dishwasher for cleaning such utensils. Make sure to discard those that have developed cracks and abrasions.
So, if you are interested in buying glazed ceramic cookware, go for those with safety certifications and use them properly. You may also refrain from cooking in these utensils, for the sake of your health.
While use of aluminum, copper, and non-stick cookware is not recommended by experts, stainless steel and cast iron utensils are deemed to be safe. Ceramic cookware is also safe, provided you use those with proper safety certification. This type of cookware is advantageous in many ways.
They can be subjected to very high heat, and are also microwave safe. As they retain heat for a longer time, they are perfect for storing food. Being stylish and colorful, this cookware is used for serving food. They can be used to store food in the refrigerator, and are also very easy to clean. Make sure that you are using good quality ceramic cookware.