Enamel cookware safety

Updated April 17, 2017

Enamel cookware is generally safe, except for some of the ingredients used in the glaze. Sometimes these substances will leak into the food when cooking. Canada has stricter rules for enamel cookware than the United States. This means that Canada requires that enamel cookware with lead or cadmium say so on the label. Consumers should inquire before purchasing cookware about safety and look for warning labels for cadmium or lead. Reading customer reviews on websites for cookware that is not labelled gives good information on the specific enamel cookware products you are buying.

Canadian Regulations for Enamel Glazed Cookware

Enamel cookware is coated with a glaze. This glaze is similar to glass--it resists wear and corrosion. The glaze sometimes has harmful ingredients like pigments for colour, cadmium or lead. When enamel cookware is made, the company is supposed to control the process of using these substances. In Canada, enamel cookware is regulated under Hazardous Products Regulations. Cookware cannot be sold or distributed unless it releases only a trace amount of cadmium or lead and mentions this on the label. Many countries do not have a strict code for enamel cookware like Canada.

Two Types of Enamel Cookware and FDA Regulations

There are two type of enamel cookware. The first is enamel on steel and the second enamel on cast iron. The glaze is usually applied to the metal. It is a non-stick and non-reactive coating on top of the metal pan that is shiny and easy to clean. It keeps the metal from leaching into your food when cooking. Enamel cookware is approved by the FDA and considered safe in the United States. The amount of lead leached into food from some pots does not exceed the FDA standards in the U.S . In the 1970s, high levels were found in enamel cookware made overseas, so the FDA stopped the importing of these products. Today enamel cookware sold in the United States meets the FDA standard for acceptable levels of lead and cadmium. Lead was found in crock pots but was in the low acceptable range. Overall, the use of lead and cadmium has been discontinued in the United States, so most enamel cookware is safe.

Cleaning and Cooking With Enamel Cookware

Let the cookware cool after cooking as extreme changes in temperature cause cracks. Use non-abrasive cleaning agents so you do not scratch the surface. For baked-on grease, soak the cookware in warm sudsy water, and add baking soda to the water for extra hard spots. To remove stains, add one or two tablespoons of bleach per cup of water. Most enamel cookware can be put in the dishwasher and cleaned safely.

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About the Author

Joan Russell has been a freelance writer for many years. She writes on variety of topics, including food, health, gardening, travel and education. She's written for the Christian Science Monitor, IGA Grocergram, Home Cooking, Atlantic Publishing and Duclinea Media. She has a B.A. in journalism/communications from the University of Bridgeport and an A.S in food service management from Naugatuck Valley Technical Community College.