Both Teflon and plastic bottles, mostly PET, have FDA approval for food
contact. It takes years to get approval and includes considerable toxicity
testing of all the ingredients in the plastic as well as extracts of the
plastics. You may like glass bottles or aluminum cans but chances are that
these also have polymeric, FDA approved coatings. Toxicity of food products
lies not in the packaging but in the food itself.
Probably not. Scratch resistant coatings can be outside.
Contact would be drinking out of bottle. But, then there is the cap and
liner which contacts drink.
It's pretty hard to avoid plastic. For the chemophobics responding, EC and
Asian packaging regulations are not as stringent as US FDA.
If you have a reference to something new here, aspasia, please post. The
rest of this is about what's not new.
Teflon (PTFE) cookware safety is among the oldest topics of public Internet
food-related discussion. I participated in a cookware thread about this
nearly 25 years ago on ancestors of some of these newsgroups. The classic,
ancient issue (publicized since 1960s) is volatile gas hazards under extreme
heat (exploited, as a minor but interesting side note, for working plasma in
practical "ion drive" engines for spacecraft outside atmosphere). A
secondary topic in recent years concerned hazards or disposal of chemicals
used in PTFE manufacture, basically unrelated to the home risks problem, but
some people confused them, which clarified little. Below is a summary I
posted to a food forum in 2006.
Teflon decomposition to fluorinated gasses happens under extreme heat such
as empty pans left on a flame until they glow. Warning: ANY cookware left
unattended with food in it routinely produces toxic and/or explosive gases
too (I can tell you first-hand) so this is not really a "Teflon" issue when
viewed in perspective, and the person who eschews Teflon from practical fear
of heating pans unattended has a larger problem and should not cook. What
is peculiar to Teflon plastics is that they can form toxic gases under these
conditions without food present. That is only part of the story. The other
part, which for some reason is less popular, is that this hazard doesn't
occur, at all, if the pans are used normally. Actually, compared to some
popular metallic cookware surfaces, Teflon is demonstrably less reactive and
less contaminating in normal use. Also, Teflon-coated aluminum skillets are
used stressfully, day and night, in US commercial kitchens. Go to a
restaurant-supply dealer and look what's hanging up on the wall.
I talked recently to a home-cookware dealer who agreed that every few years,
a new set of consumers gets anxious over partial or garbled accounts of this
issue, despite the extent of daily use of these pans in homes, restaurants,
and cafeterias without incident. "Can you imagine the lawsuits," he said,
if there were?
The reason I stress this subject (besides having run into it online for
20-some years) is that it's one of those technical issues that's popular but
a little complex. Not too complex to be comprehensible, but too complex for
one-liners and sound bites. I was talking to a chemistry-professor friend
lately, a cooking fanatic who knows this issue (and the ins and outs and
history of Teflon). We've both dealt with other technical subjects of this
kind in our work, and recently I encountered yet another one. People got
anxious after hearing a little bit about it, but didn't go further, to put
it into perspective (which is necessary for an informed assessment). It
seems that once they've formed a hasty emotional judgement, many people want
to cling to that. It may be in the nature of these situations. As Pope
said, a little info can be intoxicating, the larger dose sobers you.
It is, as you say, an emotional issue for some people, not subject to
rational analysis. I think I know part of the reason. There are many
hazards we have to contend with -- exhaust particulates, contaminated
water, adulterated food -- that we can do little or nothing about. An
issue like Teflon can provide an artificial feeling of empowerment: we
*can* do something! Even if it doesn't matter, it feels good.
I built a piece of equipment used on the Mercury space capsule. The
electronics was entirely encapsulated in isocyanate foam to provide
vibration resistance. I was not allowed to use wire insulated with vinyl
because vinyl releases noxious fumes (phosgene) when overheated.
Instead, I had to use Teflon (which releases fluorine, but at a much
Engineering is the art of making what you want from things you can get.
Unfortunately what feels good can do bad, as you know. That false feeling
of empowerment can lead people wholeheartedly to unwise decisions. (Here
I'm thinking more widely than Teflon. Few people, if any, will be harmed
directly by NOT using Teflon-coated cookware, whatever their rationale.)
Considering all the available data about possible (but VERY unlikely)
hazards around us, and what glorious demagoguery they'd make (and sometimes,
do make), you or I could become guru-prophets of the Nasty Risks They Aren't
Telling You About (note the useful word "they") -- cynically working this
anxiety response to empower _ourselves._ (That is of course, if you or I
didn't have a conscience.)
A thought for the day. -- Max
Codicil about those ion drives (since you too encountered Teflon
volatilization in space-related projects, Jerry):
I handled such a drive in the 1970s at a space laboratory, but did not work
on it. In conventional chemical rocket fuels, a classic objective is
concentrated energy, formally "specific impulse" (SI). Also known as oomph.
High-performance chemical fuels deliver SI circa 200 or 300 seconds or more.
(For any unfamiliar reader, the number has practical meaning, it's the time
a fuel can produce thrust equal to its own weight -- so to speak, lift
itself off the ground.) Chemicals with higher SI tend also to be harder to
In the 1970s, ion drives were said to deliver 40,000 seconds or more of SI.
They actually got their energy from electricity. If you have a space probe
that is well away from any planet, a long gentle thrust can get you going
very fast. You burn a Teflon "candle" hot enough to make a plasma, which
will take an electrical charge. Then you use your solar panels as a source
of electric field to accelerate the ions and send them out the back.
Inevitably if they go one way, you go the other. I understand it produced
low accelerations (much less than earth gravity) so not useful for launching
a craft from the ground, but very useful in interplanetary space where also
the sun is much brighter, and electricity is "free."
Think of this, next time you marvel at the nonstick properties of your
properly used Teflon cookware!
Well, this is a cooking and chat newsgroup, so I guess it's OK so chat
about my feeling that the ion-drive SI numbers were cooked. :-) Other
fuels were taxed with bringing their own energy to the game. Ion drives
use an external energy source not weighed into the accounting. It's
rather like concluding that electric motors are far lighter than
internal-combustion engines of the peak same power without accounting
for the weight of the battery. Do you remember when the term "prime
mover" had more prominence than it does now?
Engineering is the art of making what you want from things you can get.
You could almost say it was nothing but hot air. (Forgive me, bad company
lately. Physicians discussing research related to liver damage, after which
one of them said, three times, that Web-based medical advice must be viewed
with a jaundiced eye ...)
Yes, I suppose, Jerry: That would be important to contenders at the Rocket
Fuel Olympics, for fairness. Much as air-breathing engines (including
SCRamjets) have advantages over rockets because they poach part of their
supplies en-route. The SI number is just cited for drama. I can't think of
many situations where one could actually use a rocket in place of an ion
engine or vice versa. People have tried hard, on the other hand, to develop
air-breathing transatmospheric craft [translation: space shuttles]. One of
those people told me (at the dFVLR) in 1985 that this could potentially
replace the huge rockets the US space shuttles needed to get into orbit. A
dangerous configuration, with that big external oxygen tank. "Don't be
surprised if you wake up one morning and hear that one of the space shuttles
has exploded." (When that happened exactly, a few months later, I sent a
telegram right away, regretting that he was right. He wrote back
predicting that the disaster would be traced to some minor component, taken
for granted: "a clevis pin, or an O-ring.")
To that _mot croquant_ (aside: ever worked as an editor, Jerry?) I grant
that spacecraft are afield, but you never know where a technical principle
can have unexpected utility. I could indeed tell you some stories.
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