A small distraction, the heat too high or chopping the onions can lead to an unintended increase in the temperature of the pan.
The excessive temperature can not only burn your food, bur also have obnoxious effects in your health and those around you.
In this blog we will explore what happens with our food, oils and pans when we reach the recommended temperature limits.
We may have heard about burnt food leading to cancer or other deseases. But how does that happen? Is it true?
Some components that might be related with cancer development generate when we heat the food too much: PAH (Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons), HCA (heterocyclic amines) y acrylamide. The last one can be found in starches such as burnt toasts or fries or chips that are brown instead of golden. Here, in Spain, they released a health campaign with the moto “Don’t get of-color with acrylamide. Choose golden, choose health”. However, even though this component has increased the chance of developing mutations and cancer in animals, there are not enough tests with humans to prove the hypothesis.
And what about meat? When you heat it, it creates HCA and PAH. In the accordance with the National Cancer Institute, these two components can lead to cancer, But, again, these tests were made with lab animals again. Some of the advice that they give include not cooking with temperatures higher than 150ºC (300ºF) and using the right oils, which brings us to our next point.
Burnt oil and smoking points.
We are not going to discuss about which oil is better or worst. However, we must take into account the different smoking points of oils. This temperature is define by the one that makes certain oil to smoke, as you can imagine. This degrades the oil, changes the flavour and has some secondary effects in our body.
One of them is that it creates toxic fumes and free radicals that end in our body.
These are the smoking points of some popular oils.
It is a plastic also known by PTFE, which makes sure that your food doesn’t stick to your pan (non-stick pan). It sounds great, isn’t it? Sadly, this material, you can say it is a sticky topic. The molecules of this plastic start degrading at 260ºC (500ºF) according to some, 300ºC (572ºF) according to other sources. Then, it releases fluorocarbons and other components. That is why it is not recommended to use these pans for high temperatures. However, how are you suppose to know the temperature? For example, if you are going to fry something, you will most likely surpass that temperature. In theory, we should only use this pans for the food that doesn’t require high amounts of heat such as fish or vegetables.
The fumes that these pans can emit when hot are no joke. Some workers of a teflon factory developed an strange with flu like symptoms and they started calling it the teflon flu. Moreover, it is not recomended to keep bird pets in the kitchen because it has been reported some deaths after leaving the pan on the fire. Moreover, it can also generate PFOA, which can lead to hormonal unbalances, reproductive health issues or problems with the fetus development.
Another side effect is the teflon layer getting released in small flakes. Even if the FDA this is not harmful, it is recommended to stop using that pan. This can be caused by high temperatures, sudden temperature changes or leaving an empty pan on the firetop.
As you can see, being able to see the temperature of our pan can be beneficial for our health and our pocket.