HomePackaging and MOCAPros and cons of non-stick pans. The French test on 14 products

Pros and cons of non-stick pans. The French test on 14 products

Non-stick pans raise some health concerns, but are regularly used in cooking. The monthly of French consumers 60 Million Consumers evaluated 9 with Teflon or ceramic coating and 5 in iron or steel, to measure the migration of chemicals into food. (1)

Non-stick pans, the PFOA nightmare

The chemical compound more feared than Teflon is perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), until recently used regularly in the production process of non-stick pans (as well as in fabrics and paints). It is an effective material in making surfaces impermeable to water and grease, but damn harmful.

After decades of use, has been recognized as dangerous to health and the environment, where it accumulates with no way out. In the United States, a twenty-year legal battle ended in 2019 with the condemnation of the manufacturer DuPont to millionaire compensation for causing serious illness. (2)

Suspicious substitutes

The PFOA is classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in class 2B (possibly carcinogenic to humans). It increases the risk of kidney and testicular cancer and cardiovascular disease, can impair fetal development and weaken the immune system.

The scientific evidence and the growing attention of consumers convinced the industry to abandon it (encouraged by the EFSA opinion of 4.7.20) and replace it with other perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). However, these in turn are suspected of harming health and the environment.

The test on non-stick pans

To verify whether the dangerous PFOA was really from commercial non-stick pans, experts from 60 Million Consumers they have:

- lightly abraded the coating of non-stick pans, to simulate a length of use of about 10 weeks,

- put the 'used' pans in contact with food.

The coatings they were then analyzed to verify the presence of contaminants such as perfluorinated compounds (eg PFOA) and metals.

The result

At the end of the test, three non-stick pans were found to be contaminated with small amounts of PFOA. These are the samples of:

- Sitram (2,3 ng / kg),

- Lagostina Space-saving (2,17 ng / kg),

- Essentiel B (1,36 ng / kg).

The concentrations detected are minimal, therefore included in the tolerance margin allowed for accidental contamination. And yet - ironically or rather, deception - the 3 contaminated samples are the ones who declaim the absence of PFOA.

Effect cocktail

The effect cocktail - with unknown toxicity profiles - was detected in 2 of the 3 above products, which in fact release other perfluorinated compounds.

The Essential B pan notes for migration of PFHxA (1,1 ng / kg). That Sitram gives the food two substances, PFHxS (1,95 ng / kg) and PFOSA (3,4 ng / kg). The latter - currently being evaluated as a toxic and persistent substance - was also found in the Tefal Ingenio pan (1,85 ng / kg) and in the one with Matfer brand ceramic coating (7,92 ng / kg).

Unique of the sample, Buyer Choc gives 1,13 mg / kg of aluminum to the food, against a threshold of 5 mg / kg.

Steel, stainless is better

All 5 steel pans without non-stick coating they release iron to varying degrees. Lagostina Academia (2,5 mg / kg), Beka (2,9 mg / kg), Tefal Inox (2,4 mg / kg), Mathon (1,6 mg / kg).

Very high it is the migration of iron from the De Buyer Mineral B pan, the only non-stainless steel pan, which yields a good 526 mg / kg to the food, almost double the established threshold (280 mg).

Non-stick even if in steel

In the adhesion test of the food being cooked, the steel pans obtain excellent results. The best performance is from Mathon and Beka. A little less brilliant is the yield of Tefal Inox and De Buyer Mineral B. Maluccio instead the Lagostina Academia, where the pasta of crepe it sticks on 7% of the surface.

To improve the non-stick performance of steel pans, remember, it is useful to subject the new utensil to a very simple treatment. Pour in some oil, bring it to the point of smoke, throw it away and dry the pan.

An anno dopo

Non-stick it is almost total in coated pans and following the best practices. Less performing is the Essentiel B, difficult to find in Italy.

With an abrasion which simulates prolonged use for a year, three pans lose hits: Mafter, Lagostina Salvaspazio and Essentiel B. The Green Chef, Healty & Tasty and Sitram pans instead retain their initial properties. Those with ceramic coating, Matfer and Tefal Asteroid, on the other hand, do poorly.

Marta Strinati


(1) Amine Meslem. Poêles antiadhésives. Sont-elles sûres? 60 Millions de Consommateurs, April 2022. https://www.60millions-mag.com  

(2) For a reconstruction of the facts, see the interview with the lawyer Robert Bilot, author of the class action, published in Altronomia on 1.12.17. https://altreconomia.it/bilott-pfas/ 

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Professional journalist since January 1995, he has worked for newspapers (Il Messaggero, Paese Sera, La Stampa) and periodicals (NumeroUno, Il Salvagente). She is the author of journalistic surveys on food, she has published the book "Reading labels to know what we eat".


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