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Consumer Reports puts non-stick pans to the test

Thursday, August 16, 2012

The technology for non-stick cookware may change, but that doesn't mean it is always better. Consumer Reports tested numerous non-sticks pans and they turned up some problems.

The Home Shopping Network says the T-Fal Ingenio set makes cooking easier. Consumer Reports tested a spot on the pans that turned solid red when it turned 400 degrees.

"But the color of the spot doesn't change if the pan gets too hot, so you still have to pay attention," said Celia Lehrman of Consumer Reports.

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Consumer Reports tested the T-Fal along with more than a dozen other kinds of non-stick cookware. Many did a better job at a test that accesses how evenly a pan cooks. A pancake in a T-Fal pan turned out a little blotchy.

"Another concern is how well the non-stick coating on the pans will last," said Celia Lehrman.

To test that, pans are heated to around 400 degrees then scrubbed with steel wool. Some looked pretty good even after 2,000 passes, but the coating on the T-Fal wore away pretty quickly and other pans did even worse. The pans from the EarthPan II and the EarthPan Plus sets wore away after less than 400 strokes. But interestingly, another EarthPan did better in the scrub test, it's the EarthPan Hard Anodized set; a best buy at $170. It also rates very good for cooking food evenly.

There has been concern that non-stick pans with a chemical PTFE can release potentially harmful chemicals when heated. The manufacturer of EarthPans claims its non-stick coating is free of PTFE. Consumer Reports past tests of pans with the chemical show under normal cooking conditions levels of harmful chemicals are quite low. Nevertheless if a pan with a non-stick coating starts to flake, it's best to discard it.

Consumer Reports is published by Consumers Union. Both Consumer Reports and Consumers Union are not-for-profit organizations that accept no advertising. Neither has any commercial relationship with any advertiser or sponsor on this site.

(All Consumer Reports Material Copyright 2011. Consumers Union of U.S. Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.)

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