Monday, July 8, 2013

Is Your Cookware Safe for Food Allergies?

By Kelley Lindberg

I posted this originally about three years ago, but I think it’s time to dust it off again and repost it, because safe cookware is something we all need reminding of now and then!

Okay, so you’ve cleared your pantry of the foods your newly diagnosed family member is allergic to. You’ve found some new recipes and discovered your new favorite brands of safe cookies.

Now it’s time to look in your pots and pans cabinet.


Yep, it’s true. Some of your cookware may not be safe to use for your food-allergic loved one.

For the most part, your regular pots and pans and baking dishes – the stainless steel or non-stick ones and the glass dishes – are probably safe. As long as the surface is non-porous and can be thoroughly cleaned, it should be okay.

Stoneware, however, needs a closer look. If your stoneware is fully glazed (and the glaze isn’t cracked), then the food probably washes off just fine and it’s probably okay to use. But if your stoneware’s cooking surface is rough and unpainted (that pizza stone or that Pampered Chef casserole dish), then that rough surface absorbs the oils from any food cooked in it. That’s what gives the stoneware that nice non-stick finish the more you use it, but it also means the stoneware has probably absorbed unsafe food allergen proteins. So you shouldn’t use it for preparing food that will be eaten by a food-allergic person.

The same goes for that Dutch oven you take camping. If you’ve made Aunt Rita’s cheesy biscuits in it in the past, don’t make dinner in it this weekend for your milk-allergic son.

A cast iron skillet is in the same boat. If it’s a true cast iron skillet with that beautifully seasoned surface that you’ve spent years building up (the kind where you just wipe it clean or maybe use a quick rinse, but you’d divorce your hubby if he scrubbed it with a Brillo pad), then that great black surface is made of hardened food oils, some of which may still contain allergens.

Be aware of cookware when you go to parties, too. Check with the cook to see if they used a stoneware pan for those yummy-looking pumpkin bars before you indulge in them.

If you do find unsafe cookware in your cupboards, and you’ve wondered why your child keeps getting sick even though you’ve eliminated the allergens from his or her diet, you may have just discovered the culprit.

While you’re at it, check your non-stick pans and skillets. If the non-stick surface is peeling off and you can see the metal beneath it, toss it out. That has nothing to do with allergies, and everything to do with toxic materials leaching into your food. Ick. And think twice about any aluminum pans, too. Aluminum is allegedly being tentatively linked to Alzheimer’s and other illnesses, so you might want to consider avoiding aluminum cooking surfaces and go with stainless steel instead. Just something to think about.

So… sad but true, it’s time to ditch the old stoneware. The good news is, when you purchase new cookware, this time you can be sure it’s only used to prepare safe foods, and you’ll embark on a long, safer life together!

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