Cooking up a storm in a frying pan

Teflon-coated cookware does not pose a threat to human health, according to scientists in the US. 

Charles Powley and colleagues from DuPont have investigated the possibility that PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid) might be released from pan surfaces under cooking conditions. 

PFOA is used as a polymerisation agent during cookware manufacture as well as in carpets and clothing. It has been detected in animals and in human blood.   

Powley and colleagues extracted coated and non-coated cookware with water and with water-ethanol mixtures under simulated cooking conditions (100 C and 125 C). 'The results showed conclusively that no PFOA was extracted from commercially-obtained cookware under any of the conditions examined. The rigorous nature of the method's validations showed that any PFOA that might have been extracted would have been recovered and analysed,' said Powley. 

Claims from previous reports were that polymers used in non-stick coatings degrade at temperatures between 360 C and 500 C to give compounds including PFOA. These temperatures are well above those normally encountered during cooking. 

Concerns remain regarding exposure to PFOA during manufacturing processes.
Niamh O'Connor 


C R Powley et alAnalyst, 2005, 130, 1299 (DOI: 10.1039/b505377c)