I bought a beautiful hand-carved wooden cooking spoon at our local farmer’s market when my son was a toddler. It is one of my favorite cooking utensils and we have used it ever since for baking, cooking and stealing tastes from the bowl. Today, I still have that wooden spoon but have banned all other plastic kitchen utensils from my kitchen because I don’t want anything plastic touching the food I’m preparing for my family. And this is a wise move for several reasons that we will explore here. You’ve trusted Mamavation to bring you the deadly chemicals leaching out of black plastics, which plastics are the safest when not heating, & eco-friendly alternatives to plastic straws, join us now as we explore the reasons why you really need to stop using plastic utensils in your kitchen.
Are you using any nylon based cooking utensils? Nylon is a thermoplastic. This kind of plastic can be melted and molded into shape. It is also used to create composite heat-resistant materials. But it’s not just nylon that is in those plastic cooking utensils. Disastrously, plastics, especially the black ones, are more dangerous than they are useful. And when you are also considering they are contributing to pollution to our environment, the question is why use them? Not convinced yet? Then there are a dozen reasons to get rid of plastic cooking utensils!
1. They Don’t Last Long
Those black nylon plastic cooking utensils chip, shred with use. That damage from everyday use allows toxins to enter your food. Remember, they’re heat resistant to 400 degrees, not heat proof. They will melt with extended contact with a hot pan.
2. “BPA-Free” is a BS Label
BPA-free does not mean safe. Most of the time when companies are touting “BPA-Free” they have just replaced BPA with a similar chemical. Bisphenol-A (BPA) has been replaced by bisphenol-S (BPS), which independent scientists are warning is just as bad or perhaps worse than BPA. The reason is BPS isn’t that much different from BPA. It’s a sister chemical, part of the same family of bisphenols and all are rotten. We refer to the bisphenol family of chemicals as the “bitchy bisphenols” because they are all rotten. BPS disrupts cell function in the same ways that BPA does, leading to obesity, hormone disruption, and even cancer. That means that plastic cooking utensils labeled “BPA-free” are not necessarily safe.
3. There Is No Safe Plastic
Actually, any plastic is a hazard for endocrine disruptors, some especially when heated. For this reason, it’s best to limit your use of them as much as possible. This is especially true when heating them up in the kitchen! It’s difficult to tell what exactly is in the plastic cooking utensils since companies don’t disclose the chemical make-up of their products (but they will trademark it). Plastics like polypropylene, used in plastic cooking utensils, leach chemicals into the body. These chemicals act like estrogen in the body, creating a whole new set of problems.
4. Several Organizations Have Asked The FDA To Remove Phthalates From Anything Touching Food
Several organizations, including the Breast Cancer Fund, The Center for Food Safety and The Center For Environmental Safety, are pressuring the FDA to rule against phthalate use in any products. For example, plastics which have contact with food, including food storage and plastic cooking utensils. Right now, only certain phthalates are banned from use in children’s products used by ages 12 and under. Not only are Phthalates are linked to asthma, but also to developmental disabilities, obesity, cancer and more.
5. They Contain Traces of Flame Retardants & Heavy Metals
Plastic cooking utensils, especially ones made of black, are made with recycled computer parts that have been treated with flame retardants. Companies are (possibly unknowingly) risking your health in an effort to reuse plastic. It’s a noble yet foolish issue when you consider what is leaching out of the plastic when you are heating it with use. Earlier this year researchers discovered something very sinister coming out of plastics. After testing 129 black plastic items used in contact with food & beverage, they found the presence of brominated flame retardants, chlorine, PVC, cadmium, chromium, mercury, lead, and antimony. Most of these substances are not safe for human consumption, even at small levels. Additional things tested included plastic cooking utensils and coffee mugs. These chemicals have been found in blood and breast milk samples. Presently the EPA has labeled one of these chemicals, decaBDE, as a possible human carcinogen.
6. They Pollute The Environment
8 MILLION tons of plastic end up in the oceans, and the number is growing. This trash is accumulating in vortexes in ocean currents and has created large garbage patches. Lamentably, few companies recycle plastic cooking utensils, so those utensils are feeding the plastic pollution problem.
7. “Made In China” a Lot of Times Means Made with Carcinogens
Most of the black nylon utensils found to be passing primary aromatic amines into food were made in China. These chemicals have sensitizing and allergenic properties. Alarmingly, the one found most prevalently in samples that gave of excessive amounts was 4,40-MDA, which is a possible carcinogen. Animal testing has proved that constant exposure leads to thyroid and liver cancers.
8. Their Production Poisons Us
One of the main chemicals formed in the manufacturing of household plastics is benzene. Benzene contains a mix of chemicals, including dangerous phthalates. Benzene is also a known carcinogen. Unfortunately, rates of non-Hodkin lymphoma are higher around factories that release benzene.
9. Spend a Little More to Get a LOT More
Plastic cooking utensils tend to be cheaper, but also damage more easily. Why not pay a little more for a safer option – silicone, stainless steel or wood – which has a longer life? You may also save some money on your health.
10. Other Utensils are Safe To Use
Other utensils are just as safe when cooking meat. Wooden spoons are safe to use – even with chicken! Just wash them well afterward. You can season them, and, if properly cleaned and air dried, they will last years. For instance, bamboo is a renewable resource and makes a great utensil.
11. They Can Be Hard To Clean
Plastic cooking utensils can be hard to clean, especially if the plastic on the end has broken down with wear and heat. Scrubbing can also cause more wear on a spatula with a worn end. As a result, rough edges and handles with mixed components can be a bacteria risk.
12. Manufacturers Cover Up Their Dangerous Chemical Pollution History
Companies who make the plastics pollute the environment, including water sources for cities and agriculture. Many chemicals are dumped into the environment, most notably PFOA, making their way into our bodies. Unfortunately, these PFC chemicals persist in the environment without signs of breaking down. Meanwhile, companies are strategizing against worker claims and have hidden decades of research showing that low-dose exposure is dangerous.
Eco Friendly Kitchen Utensils Mamavation Recommends
There are several kitchen utensils Mamavation recommends for cooking. When it comes to your food, we don’t recommend anything plastic, especially black plastics. When it comes to cooking utensils, wood & stainless steel are your best bets. Silicone is okay for things that are cold, but our partners at the Food Packaging Forum in Europe are still deciding whether it’s safe to heat silicone. Until they let us know, we are avoiding heating silicone. Here are some utensils that we love:
- Bambu organic bamboo kitchen utensils also certified B Corp
- Bamboo utensil set for less than $9
- Wooden spoons
- Looking for more stylish bamboo? These are cute!
- 29 stainless steel cooking utensil set
- Bambu Spork Set of 4
Here are some additional kitchen needs you may not have thought about. For instance, is there any black plastic touching the liquid in your coffee maker? I tossed my coffee maker out last year and never looked back for that very reason. Today I make coffee with a Chemex and love the hip look of the caddy and fresh coffee it makes. And what about food processors like blenders? Is there any plastic touching your food there? We’ve also curated food processors and other kitchen appliances that don’t have plastic or nonstick chemicals touching the food below. Feel free to use the drop-down menu to find other categories of safe curated products you are looking for.
- Food Storage Containers
- Safe Lunch Containers for kids & adults
- Food Processors
- Coffee Makers
And if you’d like more information about how to detoxify your home from toxins and hormone-disrupting chemicals that cause indoor air pollution, pick up a copy of Green Enough: Eat Better, Live Cleaner, Be Happier (All Without Driving Your Family Crazy!). Mamavation is also a community of like-minded people, so join us on Facebook for support from other women who are just like you. And for FREE updates, tips & tricks, product investigations and news, sign up for the Mamavation newsletter here.
What kind of cooking utensils do you have in your home?
i appreciate the article. sadly the problem seems to be practically unavoidable. bamboo appears to be very much touted in this article, yet I recently heard that bamboo is harvested in a “questionable” manner. I didn’t research it. my point is that, one person tells me something is safe, and another person, just as compelling as the other, tells me the opposite. who/what to believe? I get rid of one element in my kitchen, just to be told to get rid of the rest, as well. I’m trying to keep up but 1) often there are no alternatives other than skipping out on certain foods I enjoy 2) I don’t know what info to believe anymore. contradictions everywhere. what’s true?
here’s an example of the rut I’m in. I began making my own brown sugar. but indeed, is the plastic of my food processor toxifying the sugar? well, then I don’t know how to make my brown sugar, other than to spend tons of time and effort churning it myself. if I just go buy brown sugar- which costs more than to make it myself- that is packaged in plastic, along with most other things.
in conclusion it keeps seeming that the only way around all these things is to do everything by hand, which takes tons of dedication, and also skip out on a lot of foods I enjoy. what’s my priority? having brown sugar, or sacrificing chocolate chip cookies so I can avoid plastic? lol. its exhausting, frustrating, and even anger-inducing. I’ve grown up doing/using/eating these things, only to become an adult and realize I have to denounce almost everything I’ve known. unlearn, and replace with something new. I wasn’t taught this. I have to start over myself, while almost everyone else around me thinks I’m crazy and/or unreasonably paranoid and/or pretentious, because I only buy UNbleached flour. good practices are hated by the world, and make me unpopular.
what if even most wooden spoons can’t be trusted anymore? like maybe they manage to slip in toxins for those now, too. and how do we know silicone is really so safe? in 5 years, maybe we will hear that is carcinogenic, too.
grow my own food, get used to eating it raw, or else I won’t have time for anything else in my life. can’t trust the couches we sit on because of the fumes that apparently will come off of them for all time. same with mattresses and carpeting. can’t charge my phone because there is lead in the charger. can’t sit on a friend’s toilet because the seat is made of plastic. can’t brush my teeth because the bristles are plastic.
I feel unsafe and like almost everything I do comes with a risk, because corporations seem to want us to die. I fully believe that. really looking forward to when I die so that no illness or threat can come near me ever again. this life is a dangerous adventure. glory be to God who never intended this wasteland. sorry for all the ways my pride got me in so much trouble. id undo all of it if I could. I just want all the well-meaning people to make it out on the other, better side. because the few that love death and destruction, seem to rule this earth, and I don’t want it anymore.
Your comment is as if I wrote it myself. You’re not alone in your “paranoia”. I say that in quotes because it’s a real fear based on evidence that the world seems to be overlooking, like arsenic in rice and fluoride in tea (and as a southerner this is huge as we pretty much all drink too much sweet tea).
Anyway, one friend recently told me to do what I can and give the rest to Jesus. But to me that didn’t sound just right.
I completely agree that corporations, governments, and the “elite” do want our children to fail and us to die prematurely.
When I don’t know what to do the only thing I know to do is pray. Pray for the evil to leave these people, for them to come to know the Savior, and for unnecessary suffering to end.
I’ve been looking for safer kitchen utensils and US made products for quite some time having been made aware of the bad effects plastic containers give. Thank you so much for the info and the other links that are even more useful not only for reading but for incorporating it in our kitchen and lives as well. I’m sharing this to my family. Thank you and God bless!
How do people preserve or season their wood/bamboo utensils?
Highly informative article. This site has lots of information and it is useful for us. Thanks for sharing your viewsCookware Oven Hot Pad and Pot Handle Holder
Good to know! I love all the links included for further reading.
Love this article…I do use wooden and bamboo spoons when cooking. I also use TervisTumbler straws when using my TT cup. Since all plastic is really not safe, I guess I should not be using them either…right?
This really bothers me because these are the only ones my family uses most of the time, grandma and my sister mostly. Now let’s see if I can get them to read this and quit using them or not
Do you think the hormonal impact would move the needle there OR do you feel like they are just stuck with them?
I ditched the plastic serving ware years ago but haven’t made the jump from my coffee maker. I’ve been eyeing the Chemex for ages, does it take a long time to brew?
Well, you are doing more yourself so in that sense yes. BUT I feel like it tastes better. And it’s only another minute of your time. I’m totally used to it now. Using a chemex turns you into the ultimate coffee snob. *snort*
We have moslty wood in our home, but our tongs broke and I went out to Ikea and the only kind I could find were the black plastic ones… gotta ditch it now! Thanks for sharing!
UGH! Somethings Ikea is soooo good at like furniture. And then other things they totally suck at like pans & utensils. They really need to lay off the plastic over there!
I’ve switched to all stainless utensils and cookware. Just healthier for my family.
Good for you!! You’re such a great mom!