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China made cookware not healthy ?

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Hello,
I'm currently shopping for few items like ramekins, casseroles, cooking baking trays, and others.
I'm looking for cheaper stuff, since I'm a bargain shopper and I buy good stuff when it goes on sale. I'm guessing sooner or later most of my kitchen will be filled with European made cokware.

In the meantime I'm grabbing cheaper, made in China cookware. I know that mostly china means poorer quality, and I understand it, you get what you pay for, but shopping around I'm constantly reading comments about people refusing to buy China made cookware, saying that it is bad for your health.
At first I didn't read into it, but after 20 comments I'm starting to question myself, and I am starting to get a little bit scared on buying China made Cookware.

Anyone cares to elaborate on what I'm reading around on the net.
Is this really a health issue ?
Was I suckered into a paranoia ? :)

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  1. http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/0...

    It may or may not be a safety issue. I haven't seen any other stories about Chinese cookware being a health risk.

    1. Lets not use these negative stereotypes China (ALL Chinese) made products = poorer quality logic.

      China produces most of the cookware sold so they will have more rotten eggs than everybody else.

      We need specifics on what isn't healthy and not generalizations.

      The companies that outsource factories to China still oversee supervise the production of goods to ensure quality. Ultimately, those companies are still held accountable for any public health problems they cause.

      1. I've heard that, but it didn't stop me from buying several Le Crueset-like Chinese pots at TJMaxx. Not like I use them everyday anyway. I mean, the microwaving Saran Wrap thing has been debunked, so unless there's some kind of MAJOR announcement, I'm not going to worry myself. In the end, it's a personal decision. I think it's more food products that we should worry about, but people seem to go overboard with that too.

        1. The ONLY common threat from ceramic imports I can think of, off hand, is lead and it's easy enough to test for lead content on pottery ware. Porcelain (aka china or fine china) is fired at such high temperatures that if there was any lead (or other "harmful" compounds in the glaze) it would be sealed inside the porcelain and/or surface glaze after firing and no longer pose a threat. It's only in "pottery," which is porous when the surface is chipped and is fired at far far lower temperatures than porcelain that lead can be dangerous, and then only if you use it for food service instead of display.

          In short, if you find good design in porcelain from China you like, go for it! Chinese porcelain workers NEVER make the wages that Europeans do. It's the basic reason why porcelain imported from China is so much cheaper.

          And just for the record, if you buy pottery ware and want to use it for food, before you do that test it for lead content. To do that, go to a swimming pool supply store and buy the smallest container of muriatic acid you can get them to sell you At home, turn your piece of pottery ware face down on a thick pad of newspaper in a place where neither children nor pets can reach it. Then find a place on the bottom of the item that has all of the colors on the piece, or maybe more than one spot on the bottom in order to test all of the colors. Place a generous drop of muriatic acid on each color and allow to air dry for a day. Examine the tested surface closely (be careful not to brush it off before you study it) under bright light (sunlight is good) for any trace of a powdery edge around the spot where the muriatic acid dried. If there is any trace of powdery residue, the item has some lead in the glaze and is not the best choice for serving food. There are also professional labs that will test the item for you... For at least a hundred times more than this will cost.... '-)

          FYI: I know about this stuff because I'm a fairly experienced ceramacist and metal enamalist. Job related.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Caroline1

            Love this suggestion, Caroline1. A note to anyone who uses muriatic acid: be careful handling it.

          2. Leaching lead in poorly fired ceramic cookware has been documented. For that reason I also generally include enameled cast iron unless it is backed by a strong brand like Lodge for quality control.

            Metal and Glass cookware are different animal so, other then various perceived issues with various non-stick coatings I don't see where a health issue could possibly exist in mainstream cookware.

            1. People make their own opinions from what they read and hear. Nothing is fail-proof. While the quality of Chinese made products are definitely questionable - corrosive dry wall, tainted human and dog food, lead paint in toys, etc, we also hear about exploding French breast implants and salmonella tainted meat and veggies in this country.

              You decide for yourself who you want to trust more.

              I look very thoroughly before I make any purchase. Many times I am able to find EU or US made products costing the same, if not less, than their made in China cousins. Why not help out our economy then?

              1. "I'm guessing sooner or later most of my kitchen will be filled with European made cookware."

                Why not just get it now? Wouldn't not buying something twice be cheaper in the long run? As above, plenty of American-made cookware is relatively inexpensive and excellent quality too.

                Nothing worse than trying to work with cheap, poorly made tools.

                12 Replies
                1. re: Pedr0

                  Yes there is something worse - trying to use expensive tools that don't suit you. An expensive French enameled cast iron pot might be pretty, and impress your neighbors, but will just be an expensive ornament if too heavy or too large for your use.

                  Most often I've replaced knives and pots because I've found something better, more suitable, not because the old ones wore out. And the new ones weren't more expensive. I think I've developed an eye for well made products, but the country of origin sticker is pretty far down on the importance list.

                  1. re: paulj

                    "but will just be an expensive ornament if too heavy or too large for your use."

                    Or that enameled cast iron is just not what one needs. Some people never really need an enameled cast iron cookware, just like some people never really a Teflon pan. Everyone has different needs. For example, I doubt many will find an enameled cast iron wok to be very useful. If they do, then they are not really using it as a wok anyway.

                    http://www.amazon.com/Le-Creuset-Enam...

                    It can be the most "well-made" enameled wok (whatever that really means), and it will still be a poorly design cookware.

                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                      I feel the same way about enameled cast iron woks as I do about enameled cast iron tagines.... Stooooooooopid! Obviously the designers of such things don't have a clue about how and why the originals work so well. Sometimes imitation is the worst form of flattery, especially when it doesn't work right!

                      1. re: Caroline1

                        :) Agree. I think it is just a pure business decision. Sometime people have an excellent experience with a Le Creuset enameled cast iron Dutch Oven, and they simply venture from that point on.

                        "enameled cast iron tagines"

                        They have that huh? I didn't know.

                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                          HUGE difference between an enameled cast iron Dutch oven and an eneameled cast iron wok. Or tagine. I'd buy the Dutch oven in a heart beat. The other two, I would LOVE to drop on the designer's toes....! '-)

                          1. re: Caroline1

                            "The other two, I would LOVE to drop on the designer's toes....! '-)"

                            Very violent. :)

                            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                              heh heh heh Who? ME???

                  2. re: Pedr0

                    It simply may not be financially possible to equip a first kitchen with fine cookware. For my first apartment I bought whatever I could afford or took whatever my mother had lying around that she no longer needed. I replaced these items gradually - buying things I wanted/needed as I could afford. It has probably only been in the past 10 years that I finally do have pretty much all the good stuff that I really want. But it's been over 40 years since my first kitchen.

                    You're smart to look for good quality cooking tools but it is actually possible to cook fabulous meals using the crappiest possible equipment. I can't comment on lead content in enamel - but for most run-of-the-mill cooking tools, things made in China can do the trick until you can afford to get what you really need. All this slagging of low-cost imported cookware is just plain snobbery in my opinion. We can't all afford Le Creuset right off the bat.

                    Speaking of which...my favourite LC Dutch oven is one that I picked up at a second-hand shop for $14. So it's worth hunting thrift stores and garage sales. But fergoshsakes, don't apologize for buying a made-in-China skillet if you need a skillet.

                    1. re: Pedr0

                      Wish I could, but I cannot buy everything at retail right away. We're looking for our first house, so we need all cookware.
                      For example today I bought China made Ramekins 6 for $10, but sooner or later when I find some I will buy some EU or US made, but 1 costs as much as the whole set I bought.

                      Can't have everything right away, all costs add up.

                      1. re: toyopl

                        Don't apologize for the ramekins. Enjoy them. Hey! What do you know! I just went to the kitchen and looked at the bottoms of all 8 of my ramekins. Three were made in Japan. One is made in China. Two were made in France. One doesn't say. They all look alike unless you examine their bottoms. And they ALL work exactly the same! Enjoy your ramekins. '-)

                        1. re: Caroline1

                          I cook a lot, and I'm really clumsy: a bad combination for my poor ramekins, which no longer match after all these years. I notice that the ones I paid more for (Pillivuyt, Sur La Table, W-S) last a lot longer than the cheap China ones, which chip very easily; however, the not-too-cheap China ones from Pier One have held up very well, so I guess it depends.

                        2. re: toyopl

                          toyopl,
                          I have been mulling over your concerns and reading all the posts for some time. I think you are right to have concerns. There have been problems with lead and glazing. There is also the problem of too much cookware for too few dollars. In other words, worse than cheap. Since you have said you need all cookware, you might want to look at Chefs Catalog, and BBandB. I was at a BB&B store recently and saw the Emeril try-ply by All Clad. I was impressed with the weight and comfortable handles, something I cannot say about the handles on US Made All Clad. The lids are glass. You might also look at Cuisinart French Classic (made in France). I agree with Chem above about the Tramontina; appears to be a good set at a good price. Our cookware is a mishmash with quite a bit of ScanPan Fusion Five ply. Made in China. It is good, heavy, and works well. No longer available. Lodge cast iron is relatively inexpensive and seasons up well. It just gets heavy the older you get. Well, enjoy your cooking odyssey which will last a lifetime and enjoy your house. Take care.

                      2. China certianly has a bad reputation for both quality control and safety when it comes to a number of items, many of which have already been mentioned. I personally try to avoid "made in China" as much as is possible, not only for those reasons, but also for socioeconomic reasons as well. Is a piece of stainless cookware from China going to harm you, probably not, but that's a probably not instead of a no. In spite of the lower wages in China, they are still compeating with other countries to manufactur items at the lowest possible price point. Who really knows for sure what cost cutting measures they are tiaking on any given item. For example, who would have ever thought dry wall from China would be corrosive and ruin plumbing and electrical wireing? I don't have that worry when items are made in the EU or US.

                        I've delt with too many customers that were having items made in China and had no idea what was really go on in the manufacturing process to trust that US companies making or having items made in China are on top of things. Buy if you must, but don't be surprised at what you may get.

                        1. For porcelain (ramekins and casseroles) there should be no safety issues. The stuff is fired at a high enough temp that any chemicals in the glaze are either chemically changed, or rendered inert. (I don't remember which.) But more to the point, the Chinese have been making porcelain ware for centuries. Of course they know how to do by now! Sheesh, people, the very name we commonly use for tableware is china. Because it has been made for centuries in China.

                          On the cookware, metal stuff, plenty of people think the wares are dicey. But I would buy a nice pan manufactured in China under the right circumstances--price is right, quality is good, brand name is trustworthy. But I do understand the hesitancy for metal cook ware.

                          9 Replies
                          1. re: sueatmo

                            Just because China made china for centuries, really doesn't have anything to do with what is manufactured today. You can't draw comparisons between Ming dynasty vases and $1.98 dishes of today, the two are not related. I'm not saying China can't make a good quality china, but that the incentives are not there now, it's all driven by low price. Since it's driven by price, a lot of short cuts are taken and in some cases improper raw materials are used to cut costs, that's where the issues arise with lead in paints and glazes and other chemicals that shouldn't be in a product. I don't disagree that they know how to make porcelain, I only disagree that they have incentive to make great porcelain that can be sold for $1.98 each.

                            1. re: mikie

                              I don't think anyone said anything about a porcelain ramekin made in China being great art. Just that cheap porcelain ramekins that are made in China should carry no worries about their safe use in the kitchen. Do you make creme brulee in Ming vases? I don't.

                              1. re: Caroline1

                                Kids toys from China shouldn't be made with heavy metals (lead, cadmium) or toxic chemicals (1,4-butanediol) either right?

                                As the axiom goes, "cheap goods carry a high price".

                                1. re: Pedr0

                                  Education reduces the price and the risk. And then we weren't talking about children's toys.

                                  1. re: Caroline1

                                    http://www.jeffersonhospital.org/The-...

                                    Education just isn't going to change the culture of business in China. American companies have become so dependent on importing cheap crap from there that tightening the safety regulations will probably harm the US economy in the end. Thanks Wallstreet!

                                2. re: mikie

                                  I agree with all of that except about the vast array of porcelain made for export in China today. Sometimes porcelain is created for BIG PRESTIGE name companies in the west -- Europe and America -- but may not be stamped "made in China. Or sometimes it is and people just don't care. Our import/export laws are so convoluted in this country that very few of the terms we still use day to day still carry their original meaning. For example, take automobile COMPONENTS -- body parts, seats, engines, drive shafts, odometers, tachometers, just about anything, can be made in another country and imported to the U.S. where they are ASSEMBLED and counted as a car "Made in the USA."

                                  My current "everyday" flatware is Wallace Silver's "Country Classic" in the stainless steel continental size, which is no longer being offered, but you can see it here:
                                  http://www.replacements.com/webquote/...
                                  If you turn it over and look at the back, it says "Wallace" with the trademark registered symbol followed by, "made in China." I won't say "all," but many of the "hallmark" great American sterling flatware companies do have their stainless steel flatware manufactured in China. I don't buy china any more because I have enough sets to last a few generations, but I would again not be surprised to find that many top "china" companies have some of their patterns made in China.

                                  Just because China made great and fantastic porcelains in the past does not mean they don't make them today. And just because a Ming Dynasty vase can command a breath taking price does NOT mean that China didn't produce some pretty crappy and cheap porcelain during the Ming Dynasty! It is not a "China makes either good or bad china" at any given point in time. It's that China DOES make both great and crappy porcelain ware ALL of the time.

                                  1. re: Caroline1

                                    "t is not a "China makes either good or bad china" at any given point in time. It's that China DOES make both great and crappy porcelain ware ALL of the time."

                                    Very good point. Some of the very best artistic china set or porcelain pieces are still made in today China. Like Japanese knife makers who pride their lineage and skill passed down from generations, the modern Chinese ceramic artists are making some stunning pieces.

                                    1. re: Caroline1

                                      Ok, I'll buy your last point and I'll agree that China can make good porcelain, that's just not what you buy at Pier 1 for $1.98

                                      1. re: Caroline1

                                        True about stainless flatware. Oneida no longer makes flatware for home use in the U.S. The name is now owned by a Chinese company. I believe that Oneida does produce flatware for commercial users.

                                        You can learn a lot about flatware at this site, which someone on this board recommended to me when I was trying to decide on new flatware:

                                        www.silversuperstore.com

                                        I ordered place settings last year from them; and I ordered more serving pieces this year. No tax and and no shipping. Fast service. There is so much info on the site. My pattern was made in Japan. I love it.