With a large share of the market for pots and pans in Israel, the Korean-based company Neoflam is in the media spotlight in the small Middle East country right now — a place where people love to eat, and where grandmothers love to cook. All Jewish holidays revolve around food, so news that a popular company is selling pots and pans with lead and cadmium on them, has created nationwide panic. For all those people who believed Teflon-coated pans to be unsafe for food preparation, they bought into the promise by Neoflam and other ceramic-coated pots and pans manufacturers, that the new line of non-stick pots and pans are not just healthy, they are good for the environment. An Israeli investigative report, however, may have blown the lid off a new toxic industry that is misleading the public.
According to the Kolbotek report, which Maurice details here, the Neoflam pots and pans, marketed with their branded ecological Ecolon coating, contain toxic levels of cadmium and lead, presumably when the food, dishwasher or cleaning utensils come in contact with the brightly colored exterior surfaces. After our posting, the Jerusalem Post picked up on the news. Here are a couple of excerpts:
In one interview Prof. Yona Amitai, formerly chief of mother and child health services at the ministry and a professional toxicologist who now researches and teaches toxicology at Bar-Ilan University, said on Kolbotek that based on the lab results, he would not use the products in his own home.
The cookware that was found to have excessive amounts of the carcinogenic metal-covered products included certain models by Neoflam, Rainbow, Home and Fresco, while models by Arcosteel and Go-Green Perfecto had none or permissibly low levels. Half of all ceramic cookware in Israel is made by Neoflam, the show said.
In this caption, the Hebrew reads: health pan, Neoflam: lead: 290 parts per million; cadmium 50,662 parts per million.
Kolbotek is known locally in Israel to be sensational in its undercover reports, so just how meaningful their tests are is yet to be seen. And if the TV station’s testing methods are found to be a sham, then they will be held responsible for thousands of pots and pans now heading to the to garbage dump.
The jury is still out on what the country’s recommendation will be on the pots and pans, but Neoflam, other newspapers report, is filing a law suit against Kolbotek, the TV show. I emailed Neoflam for a comment and received no response.
Members of the Israeli public have meanwhile launched a 55 million shekel (about $15 million) class action law suit against Neoflam. Haaretz reports:
The suit is for NIS 55 million, based on damages of NIS 1,100 per customer and a reported 50,000 customers who bought the company’s products.
Neoflam stated in response: “Global Neoflam is considering filing a massive lawsuit against ‘Kolbotek’ for misleading the public on last night’s episode. ‘Kolbotek’ ignored international standards set based on the potential for dangerous materials to leach into food.
“‘Kolbotek’ was warned in advance that its tests were not in keeping with what’s acceptable around the world, and their results completely contradict the standards of the FDA and checks conducted in Switzerland, Germany, Belgium and other countries,” the company stated.
Interestingly, the more expensive ceramic coated pots and pans by the company Arcosteel passed the rigorous tests posed by Kolbotek at an independent environment safety testing lab, tests which Neoflam say are not relevant to international standards.
You can be sure that we’ll be reporting on this issue as it unfolds. Neoflam pots and pans are sold worldwide, including through various chain stores like Walmart. If you are buying pots and pans for health and environment reasons, you certainly don’t want to be inviting lead or cadmium to your dinner table.
There is obviously a lot of big business at stake here, and the outcome of the next round of tests will either lead to better standards on media reporting, or a worldwide shift in the purchase of non-stick pans.
I don’t own ceramic pots or pans but since hearing about the possibility of carcinogens, I confess, I threw out my brightly colored red Teflon pan, no name brand and made in Korea. Why? Because I am not taking any chances while the jury is still out.
Watch the Kolbotek report through this link.
Above images are screenshots from the Neoflam testing portion of the Kolbotek report.