Part of my job as the primary blogger for Be Food Smart is to stay up to date on what’s new in the food and nutrition world. For the most part I love it, but inevitably, there comes a point in my week where I throw my hands up in frustration. It seems that every type of food I thought I knew somehow becomes a subject of debate. Need some examples?
Sugar – The stuff that comes from the lush sugarcane plant is now suddenly associated with the “T” word. Remember when toxic was primarily used to describe a pile of nuclear waste oil drums with skull & crossbones? Robert Lustig’s YouTube video has only been viewed 1.16 million times.
Wheat – Between whole, unbleached, enriched, stone ground, and bleached, wheat is downright confusing. And all this before I even mentioned the almighty power word: gluten.
Salt – Sodium is bad, right? Or wait, is the regular stuff bad and sea salt good? What about rock, kosher, or unrefined pink Himalayan salt? Do I need the iodine (especially since the Japanese nuclear reactor is leaking)? I predict a future blog post on salt…
You have a wonderful assortment of organic, local vegetables that you are ready to cook. You pour a little olive oil into your non-stick pan and saute your veggies. What do you get? Delicious sauteed veggies with a side of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA). Wait, what?
PFOA is the chemical used to make the non-stick coating on cookware (pots, pans, muffin tins, baking sheets, etc.) and electric cooking appliances (griddles, indoor grills, sandwich makers, etc.). Products with Teflon can contain levels of the chemical or similar chemicals (such as Polytetrafluoroethylene or “PTFE”). PFOA is widely used in other products such as carpet, fast food wrappers, stain-resistant clothing, and in water repellents for fabric and upholstery.
We are exposed to PFOA through drinking water, air, dust, food packaging, breast milk, umbilical cord blood, and microwave popcorn. When non-stick cookware is exposed to high heat, the chemical gets into the air and there can be a risk of PFOA exposure.
On the Environmental Protection Agency’s website, this is what they have to say about PFOA:
“Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), also known as “C8,” is a synthetic chemical that does not occur naturally in the environment… EPA has been investigating PFOA because it:
- Is very persistent in the environment
- Is found at very low levels both in the environment and in the blood of the general U.S. population
- Remains in people for a very long time
- Causes developmental and other adverse effects in laboratory animals.”
When tested, the chemical has been found in all or virtually all people’s blood, including newborn infants. Many animal and human studies over the years have shown that PFOA may cause a multitude of health concerns. These include, low birth rates, developmental delays, various forms of cancer, tumors, and liver toxicity; although the makers of PFOA maintain that the chemical is safe for humans and there is no reason for concern.
A recent September 2010 study from the West Virginia University Health Sciences Center studied 12, 476 children