Dangers of Teflon Coated Rice Cookers
There have been warnings from the scientific community on the potential health risks of Teflon. Most have focused on the possible dangers of consuming food that has been cooked using Teflon coated pans and other cookware. Scientific studies have shown that Teflon, when heated to high temperatures, emits a toxic substance that can pose a serious health hazard.
The inner pot of most rice cookers has been coated with Teflon for many years now. It’s often not easy to purchase a rice cooker today that does not come with a Teflon coated inner pot. However, several rice cooker manufacturers have begun producing teflon free rice cookers such as the Oyama Stainless Steel Rice Cooker. So, if Teflon is unsafe, why do most rice cooker manufacturers and other makers of kitchen appliances and cookware continue to use it? Are the concerns over Teflon coated cookware justified? Are Teflon coated rice cookers unsafe?
The Benefits of Teflon
Rice naturally becomes slightly sticky when cooked and has a tendency to stick to the bottom of the pot it is cooked in. If the inner rice cooker pot is not coated with a non-stick surface such as Teflon it makes clean up more difficult as well as wasting rice. Using a non-stick coating, and Teflon is by far the most common choice these days, overcomes these problems making useful the rice much easier to both serve and clean.
Why is Teflon Dangerous?
Scientific studies show that once Teflon is heated to approximately 500 degrees F, it begins to deteriorate. At this point Teflon can release perfluorooctanoic acid which has been categorized as a likely carcinogen by the EPA. This compound has been found to be deadly to birds, but is not fatal to humans though it can cause flu-like symptoms. However, long term exposure could pose a health risk.
Should You Buy A Teflon Free Rice Cooker?
Fortunately, despite the potential health risks of Teflon when heated to high temperatures, rice cookers are designed to only heat up to 212 degrees Fahrenheit – the boiling point of water. Once the water has been absorbed by the rice and the temperature rises beyond this point, the rice cooker is designed to shut off automatically. Thus, the inner pot coated with Teflon never comes close to the 500 F necessary to cause the Teflon to breakdown. Even when using the ‘keep warm’ feature found on many rice cookers, the temperature never reaches more than 230 degrees.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), despite concerns about perfluorooctanoic acid in general, believe that there is no risk in consuming foods cooked in Teflon coated cookware at normal temperatures so you should have no concerns about using your Teflon coated rice cooker. However, if you are using a rice cooker which has an inner pot that has moderate to severe scratches on the Teflon coating, you should consider replacing it. When you do, you may wish to consider a stainless steel rice cooker that is teflon free to eliminate all concerns about potential dangers from a Teflon coated rice cooker.
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