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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.
Join The Conversation
roberto roberto 10 years
cookie dough made from scratch is pretty much the best thing in the world.
beingtazim beingtazim 10 years
good post - thanks for debunking these myths! i still don't use non-stick because i don't like how it cooks but i'll admit i thought about the possibility of PFOAs being in my food when i decided not to buy a teflon coated pan.
misslarue misslarue 10 years
Yikes! I never wash the bagged salads!
moonsafari moonsafari 10 years
i read that salmonella is on the egg's shell, not in the inside. anyone know if that's true?
EllasMom EllasMom 10 years
I am actually one of the few who have eaten cookie dough, and been subsequently hospitalized with a raging case of salmonella. Don't do it! TRUST me, the pain is a lot worse than any stomach bug. It's not worth it.
citychic1 citychic1 10 years
thanks- these are all great to know. i've wondered about each of these things at one point or another. luckily, i like baked cookies better than raw ones. ps, i wonder how safe that makes chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream?
renaimarie renaimarie 10 years
lilv- of course it's safe to eat cookie dough ice cream! They leave the eggs out of the recipe when they make it! I hate non-stick pans anyway, even if they aren't "bad" for you. They make food taste horrible.
shafiii shafiii 10 years
so sad about cookie dough =(
buttafli2112 buttafli2112 10 years
you can still eat raw cookie dough-- make your own batter, leave out the eggs and go for it- its not like youd miss the taste anyway..especially in brownie batter it just adds richness, not flavor (:
lily314 lily314 10 years
If some inconsiderate idiot used metal utensils in a nonstick pan (fine, I'll admit it, it was me), and now the pan's a little scratched up, is it still safe for use? It's just three or four scratches here and there.
alillee alillee 10 years
i love cookie dough :(
ButterflyTiff ButterflyTiff 10 years
I don't think I will use plastic wrap in the microwave - even if they say it is safe - I feel like it will melt.
lilv lilv 10 years
ice cream i mean
lilv lilv 10 years
too bad about the cookie dough it is a fun treat - i wonder if cookie dough ice is better? :)
CestLaVie CestLaVie 10 years
CestLaVie CestLaVie 10 years
As for non-stick cookware, make sure that you use PLASTIC utilizes when stirring etc. or it will scrape of the "non-stick" stuff and it will eventually get in your food- no thanks!
ALSW ALSW 10 years
Hadn't thought about the plastic wrap - thanks for the mention!
millarci millarci 10 years
I'm glad you mentioned that information on plastic wrap. I was at a tupperware party and the hostess told me that plastic wrap wasn't safe in the microwave. Therefore, I should use tupperware instead.
mdbzmom mdbzmom 10 years
good news for the non-stick. Bad news for cookie dough. However, I'm more of a brownie dough/cake batter person. I'll have to stop that.
mwmsjuly19 mwmsjuly19 10 years
What about eating eggs over easy? I love them that way!
syako syako 10 years
If you're going for an investment cookware set, don't get nonstick. Eventually the teflon will start peeling off. Opt for something like all-clad, it will last a lifetime (this info from my uncle who is a chef and a professor at a culinary school)
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