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The Truth Behind Urban Kitchen Myths

There's a lot of urban kitchen myths floating around out there that it is hard to know what is something to worry about and what is something to roll off your back.

Women's Health Magazine has validated and debunked popular urban kitchen myths so you can finally toss or start using those non-stick pans.

  • Cooking Method: Cooking with nonstick pans
    Verdict: :)
    The Facts: Nonstick savior Teflon is slippery thanks to chemicals called PFOAs (perfluorooctanoic acids), high doses of which can cause cancer in some lab animals. But according to experts, including David Schardt, a senior nutritionist and spokesperson at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, studies show no evidence that PFOAs in Teflon seep into the food we eat or the air we breathe. In fact, some research suggests that PFOAs are destroyed during Teflon manufacturing.
    Keep In Mind: Even if PFOAs don't escape when nonstick pans burn, researchers say that other harmful gases may. For safety's sake, never leave an empty pan over an open flame or in a heated oven, where it can reach temperatures high enough for toxins to be released (about 700 degrees). Simply keeping food or water in the pan is enough to prevent this: They absorb excess heat.

What about eating raw cookie dough or eating salad straight from the bag? Curious? Then,

  • Cooking Method: Eating raw cookie dough
    Verdict: :(
    The Facts: Even though just one in every 20,000 eggs is contaminated with salmonella, every expert we spoke with said the same thing: Do not eat foods that contain raw eggs. Salmonella can cause diarrhea, fever, and cramping.
    Keep In Mind: Still can't resist licking the bowl? Yeah, neither can we. If you must, go with pasteurized eggs — the high heat used during the process destroys salmonella, so the only risk you run is not fitting into your skinny jeans.
  • Cooking Method: Eating salad straight from the bag
    Verdict: :(
    The Facts: "The food industry goes to a lot of trouble to make sure products are free of pathogenic microorganisms," says James Marsden, Ph.D. However, a recent E. coli outbreak may be linked to bagged spinach. Don't risk it. The CDC recommends washing greens in cool, running water.
    Keep In Mind: If E. coli bacteria are present, there's still no guarantee that rinsing the leaves will remove them entirely. For added protection, wash your hands before and between handling different types of foods and clean knives and cutting boards between uses.
  • Cooking Method: Micro-waving plastic wrap
    Verdict: :)
    The Facts: Some people worry that nuking plastic releases cancer-causing dioxins. They shouldn't. "Dioxins are not present in plastics used for microwavable food containers or plastic wrap," says Rolf Halden, Ph.D., assistant professor of environmental health sciences at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore.
    Keep In Mind: "When it says 'microwave safe' on the packaging, manufacturers have gone to great lengths to prove that the product is safe," Dr. Marsden says. If you don't see those two magic words on the label, keep the item out of the microwave: Chemicals could escape during nuking. Avoid reheating Styrofoam takeout containers for this reason too.
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