Some of my recent posts have stressed to you the importance of knowing about the potential danger for the use of non-stick coatings in our major appliances (ovens) and other smaller household appliances (toaster ovens, hair dryers etc.), as well as certain types of cookware. There are a surprisingly high number of parrot deaths attributed to these products each year.
For those of you unaware of this hazard, appliances and cookware that utilize Teflon and other non-stick coatings send deadly gases into the air when heat is applied to the coating. These appliances require heat to perform their function. A bird in this air space will succumb to the fumes and die – within minutes.
I have recommended that anyone buying new appliances or cookware contact the manufacturer about the use of non-stick coatings in their product. I want to share with you the reply someone got from the makers of Calphalon cookware in response to his queries about its safety for use around parrots:
Our nonstick surface is Polytetra-Flouro Ethylene. Fumes are generated when this ingredient contained in Teflon, T-Fal, Supra and Calphalon Nonstick products is combusted. The normal use of products containing PTFE does not present a hazard in any manner to exotic birds. However, should a pan be boiled dry, or placed on a burner empty for a period of time, then there becomes a real and overt danger of Teflon Fuming Syndrome occurring. While the fumes generated do not pose a threat to human beings, they are, indeed deadly to such birds as parrots, macaws, cockatoos, etc. The fumes prevent the normal carbon dioxide-oxygen exchange to occur in the lung tissue, thereby smothering the bird from lack of oxygen. We recommend contacting a veterinarian for further information concerning the well being of your pet birds.
Calphalon Consumer Relations
There are two notable LIES (I’ll call them as I see them) in this statement. The first is that PTFE off gassing ONLY occurs when a pan is overheated or boiled dry. This is entirely untrue! The fumes are emitted at MUCH lower temperatures, and there are many grieving former parrot owners out there who will attest to this fact. The second is the claim that the fumes do not affect human beings. This is also untrue. While we will not drop dead within minutes of exposure like our birds do, we become sick with flu-like symptoms.
What can we learn from this? While a manufacturer might have to admit the components of their products, they are not obligated to be honest about the dangers they pose. Know this: if a product contains a non-stick coating, it can kill your bird.
Patty Jourgensen specializes in avian health, behavior and nutrition and has been working with and caring for rescue birds since 1987.SaveSaveSaveSaveSave
Hi Sara, The bottom line is that you represent a company that is selling an unsafe product at the expense of the health of consumers and their pets. There are COUNTLESS reports of parrot fatalities that your product is directly responsible for. Shame on you for undermining the hazards. Patty
I am EXTREMELY disappointed in the representative from Dupont’s comment as well the consumer report article she attached. Non-stick cookware is COMPLETELY unsafe to use around birds and any company’s representative who would make such a statement is ignorant and endangering our beloved parrots. You can NOT use Teflon with no worry! Parrots will be killed within minutes from the fumes that are let off from this product. This representative is exactly the reason I haven’t been able to bring myself to buying a new stove in the last two years. A representative makes inaccurate claims such as this and within minutes it would be too late. I am very, very disappointed for the lack of knowledge and information available to us as consumers about the materials used in the products we buy.
Hi Patty, I’m a representative of DuPont, and hope you’ll let me share some information with you and your readers. Because birds have extremely sensitive respiratory systems, bird owners must take precautions to protect them. Cooking fumes, smoke and odors that have little or no effect on people can seriously sicken and even kill birds. Cooking fumes from any type of unattended or overheated cookware, not just non-stick, can damage a bird’s lungs with alarming speed. This is why bird owners should take steps to protect their pets, such as keeping their birds out of the kitchen and making sure that their kitchen is properly ventilated at all times. Over the past 40 years, there have been only a few reported accounts of polymer fume fever as a result of severely overheating non-stick cookware. It should be noted that butter, fats, and cooking oils will begin to smoke at approximately 400°F, producing fumes that can irritate eyes, nose, and throat and possibly cause respiratory distress. DuPont non-stick coatings will not begin to deteriorate in appearance or performance until the temperature of the cookware reaches about 500°F Regulatory agencies, consumer groups and health associations all have taken a close look at Teflon. This article highlights what they found — the bottom line is that you can use Teflon without worry. http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/home-garden/kitchen/cookware-bakeware-cutlery/nonstick-pans-6-07/overview/0607_pans_ov_1.htm Cheers, Sara
It is heartbreaking to think how many beloved pets have been unwittingly lost while certain product manufacturers continue to make false claims for profit. Also, if birds can die and people can become markedly ill from Teflon fumes, I can only imagine what the long term affect must be on humans and pets. I recently felt very frustrated and disappointed after spending a small fortune on “Swiss-Diamond” cookware (which had been advertised to me as bird safe and non stick). In addition to this I have been unsuccessful in getting a reply back from the manufacturer of our electric heater. I wish we could reley on “truth in advertising”, but in the meantime, thank you for providing this informative post.
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