Since the early ’70s, the electric slow cooker has been a popular kitchen appliance in American households. It is convenient to use, requires only a few minutes prep time, and requires little babysitting.
Furthermore, cooking slow and low in a sealed chamber locks the moisture and keeps nutrients intact in your food, which eventually causes your food to turn out flavorsome and tasty. Unfortunately, there is a dangerous toxin lurking in your slow cooker that you may not be aware of: lead.
This article aims to discuss the potential dangers of lead and offers useful tips to identify lead-free slow cookers.
The Health Risks of Lead leaching into your Food
Lead is a known neurotoxic heavy metal that can potentially deteriorate the functioning of every organ in the body. The medical consensus is that there is no safe level of lead exposure in food. Lead exposure is cumulative over time, often over months or years, and can cause serious health problems even in small amounts!
And while it poses a great health risk to all of us, it is particularly harmful to children because they absorb a higher proportion of lead per body weight and are more vulnerable to its effects. In children, lead poisoning is linked to learning disabilities, developmental delays, and lower IQ.
These factors make it crucial to make sure your slow cooker has absolutely no lead!
Tips to Identify Lead Free Slow Cookers
While the market is flooded with slow cooker brands, choosing the one that is truly free from lead can be a challenging task. Here are some tips to help you make sure your slow cooker has no lead:
“Lead-Free” Is Not Good Enough; Look For “No Lead” instead. Why?
As mentioned above, there are no “safe levels” of lead exposure in food, but there are standards like California Prop 65 that specify allowed limit of lead in things. Anything can be labeled “lead free” if the amount of lead is within the specified limit.
However, these levels do not necessarily infer safety when it comes to a cooking pot that can potentially leach at least 10 times more into food when heated compared to room temperature. Therefore, one must go for a “no lead” pot and not a “lead-free crock pot”.
When a cooking pot has no lead, it must be accompanied by test results from a reputable lab showing zero lead ppm to make sure it is safe for cooking.
Avoid Crock Pots with Different Colors or Gloss
If the pot has color or gloss, it uses some kind of ceramic glaze. Such glazes have lead in the form of leaded silica or leaded frets. This is not lead in metal form or oxide form, so manufacturers generally do not mention this lead. It is better to choose unglazed pots over ceramic slow cooker pots.
Make Sure Your Pot Material Looks Like You Think It Should
There are some pot materials that have no lead in their original state. The best way is to trust your eyes to determine how different a pot appears from the material it claims to be made from. A pot made from a pure material cannot go much farther from the natural state of its raw material, in terms of appearance, unless additives are used.
Be Wary of Other Chemicals – There Are Worse Than Lead Out There!
On your way to finding a “no lead” cooking pot, don’t forget about other dangerous chemicals that may be used as substitutes for the common contaminants – lead and cadmium. Your crock pot must be free from any and all chemicals or metals that can potentially leach and contaminate food at cooking temperature.
Remember: finding truly non-toxic slow cookers is the only way to cook truly healthy food.
It’s Not Just the Insert That is the Problem, You Need to Check the Whole Machine
Because food is in such close contact with the machine, and because heat is an integral component of cooking; the wise thing would be to inspect or analyze the whole cooking unit. The close contact and heat can cause reactivity in some materials like plastics and metals (including stainless steel & aluminum).
Over time, chemicals from the machine may leach or the metal casing (ex: stainless steel casing coated with ceramics) may release toxic gases too close to the food.
Our Slow Cooker Recommendation
We, at MEC, offer pots made from lab tested primary clay without additives, chemicals, or glazes. Miriam’s Earthen Cookware (MEC) is a US based company known for offering individually handcrafted pure clay pots and pans.
MEC cookware is tested and certified “no lead” and is free from all contaminants. There are no colors or glazes used in the making which cause MEC pots to look like any earthenware should naturally look: the deep red hue of fired clay.
Slow cooking in MEC is straightforward and convenient – there are no casings or heating elements involved. You can use MEC pot right on stovetop for slow cooking your favorite foods in less than half the time they take in a crock pot and on the lowest heat setting of your cooktop. Read more about how to slow cook in MEC and its many healthy features here.
And what’s more, food turns out extra nutritious and delicious with all the natural flavors and colors of your ingredients intact. Head over to our online store and order a 100% non-toxic slow cooker today.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:
Are crockpots toxic?
A crock pot can be toxic if it is made from toxic materials or use toxic glazes, colors or chemicals in any form. The different parts used in a crock pot unit must also be examined for they can leach toxins and/or release toxic off-gassing when heated.
Does my slow cooker have lead?
Your slow cooker may have lead if it is labelled “lead free”(and not “no lead”). Also, the maker must get the raw material(s) tested in a reputable lab for lead and other contaminants. If your slow cooker manufacturer shares such a lab test showing lead to be zero ppm, only then you can be sure that it doesn’t have lead.
Are slow cooker liners toxic?
Slow cooker liners are typically made from plastics of different kinds (including synthetic resins), and we know plastics can leach when heated. Therefore, slow cooker liners can be toxic with these plastics ending up in your food.