This grey Congo parrot could be at risk if exposed to cooking fumes from PTFE coated cookware
Issues surrounding the safety of ceramic and other “non-stick” cookware have still clouded peoples minds in Israel and elsewhere. These issues followed an Israeli TV consumer watchdog program, Kolbotek warned viewers that some brands of ecolon ceramic coated fry pans and other cookware may be “killing you with color” due to certain poisonous metals and other dangerous substances being present in the pans’ coatings. The warning that some of this cookware are allegedly carcinogenic even caused panic among consumers in Israel.
Ecolon, a silicon based coating ingredient, is not only used in the cookware industry, but also has many uses in other products as well, including automobile parts and accessories.
The issue of whether ecolon and other coating substances (including teflon) are dangerous to human health is still not entirely settled; and one company, Neoflam, which was singled by Kolbotek even filed a lawsuit against against the television program for giving what that company says is a false report on the dangers of its ceramic cookware products. A few years before the Kolbotek program was aired, back in 2007, Neoflam sent samples of its products to America’s FDA laboratories for testing. The test findings determined that there were 0.5 mg per kilogram of cadmium, 5 mg per kilogram of lead and 2 mg per kilogram of mercury present in the ecolon coating . The findings at that time were “non-determinable” as to any harm caused to consumers as a result of the use of these coatings.
Chart showing effects of high cooking temperatures on PTFE coated utensils
One interesting recent finding that people might be interested in learning, however, is the effect that cooking fumes from polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) or teflon coatings on many cooking utensils have on both humans and animals; especially pet birds like parrots. Studies on this substance . which is also used in bags containing microwave popcorn, have found that not only is prolonged use of these utensils causing low birth weights in humans but may also be responsible for the deaths of pet birds, especially parrots.
The bird deaths are said to be attributed to the fumes emitted by the non-stick coatings when the cookware is submitted to high temperatures during cooking. The emitted fumes are then said to cause the birds to quickly produce high amounts of fluids in their lungs as a protective measure measure against the fumes. The increased fluids then literally choke the birds to death. These bird death from teflon fumes have been noted in various studies going back to 2003 and earlier . No findings on bird deaths from fumes coming from the use of ceramic coated cookware have been noted, however.
As the jury is still out on the dangers on using ceramic coated cookware, consumers who use these products should only use the higher quality ones that have been certified as “green” cooking utensils. Following the manufacturer’s usage instructions, including not cooking on extremely hot fires or burners and using a bit of oil like olive oil in the pan, are good ideas as well.
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