Is Cast Iron Safe for People with Food Allergies? I Need to Get a Few New Pans.
This is a great question with a very interesting answer. Depending on what you’re allergic to, no, cast iron isn’t a good option. If I had to put a number on it, I’d estimate that about 50% of people with food allergies could purchase a cast iron pan without thinking twice. Let’s take a look at the different variables.
Most Cast Iron is PreSeasoned
Manufacturers that sell cast iron pans generally pre-season them. I’ve seen some places use soy oil as a seasoning. What this means is that you should reach out to the manufacturer and ask about what pre-seasoning happens. If you’re allergic to corn, you should especially be on high alert. When reaching out, ask the question a couple of ways:
- Do you add any kind of oil to the finished pan?
- Is this pan pre-seasoned?
- Are the pans washed with anything special?
Cast Iron Can’t be Dishwashed
In my humble opinion, this is the greatest downfall to cast iron pans. Since you can’t put them in the dishwasher, you’re not able to high heat sanitize. You’re also reliant on your hand washing to be perfect in removing all food proteins. Similar to Vitamix containers, I always advise that this type of equipment not be shared in your home.
If person A and B have different food allergies (or one has an allergy and the other doesn’t), they each need their own cast iron pan. Additionally, the pans need to be colour coded. This can be done with a silicone handle cover.
Also, keep track of your sponges. You don’t want to clean pans A and B with the same sponge.
In All My Years, I’ve Owned One Cast Iron Pan
Given the needs of our household, and the limitations of cast iron, we only ever owned on. And you’ll love this: we used it twice.
In fact, it was only purchased to make a cast iron cookie. We also made a cast iron pizza, and that was it. Never used it again. It might be used again in the future, but with the upkeep and cleaning, we’d rather use a pan that’s a better fit for us.
This is another downfall to cast iron and nonstick pans in general. They can “remember” what was previously cooked. Again, this is similar to the Vitamix blender containers. You’ll find that over time, the blender container is never truly clean and there’s a film/residue, no matter how much you clean it. Nonstick pans can be the same way.
I’ve personally had pans that even after dishwashing, were clearly covered in *something*. I’ll add, all of the other dishes were 100% clean. It meant that I was always hyper aware of how pans were being used.
Don’t Cook with Scratched Pans
Where cast iron and nonstick pans are concerned, if there are deep scratches, the pan should not be used any longer. Keep that in mind.
Cost as a Factor
When my kids were younger, I didn’t invest in quality pans. I knew there would be a chance of cross contact, and I didn’t want to get rid of anything expensive. I’m glad I made that choice because several pots and pans were disposed of after one of the kids used a pan for an allergenic item.
Once the kids were older, I invested in colour coded pans. Still not the highest quality, but a step up for sure. Finally, when they were all teenagers, I purchased some really nice pans.
You’ll need to think about the cost of replacement before making a purchase. Ask yourself this: if I get this pan, how will I feel if I have to replace it suddenly in 6 months? If it will hurt your wallet quite a bit, consider other options.
These days, everyone has something to say about living a clean/non-toxic lifestyle. I won’t tell you how to live, but I will say, make sure you’re getting a quality pan. Ask to see their COA and other pertinent information.
Additionally, check out some websites that focus on non-toxic living and see what types of pans they suggest. However, take it with a grain of salt. I know, seems contradicting. I’ve noticed that a lot of websites only promote what they have an affiliate code for. Sometimes, they’re promoting something with known issues, or leaving out amazing brands. Just be sure to really do your homework since this is an investment. Good pans can easily run you hundreds, if not thousands of dollars.
Alternatives to Cast Iron
If you’re not able to find a cast iron pan that isn’t seasoned (I was never able to find one), look into enameled cast iron. There’s a good chance you’ll be able to find that without any kind of added oil.
Let’s say you think this through and realize you need something you can dishwash, metal/stainless pans are a great alternative. I’ve been investing in a brand called Made In. I like it because it’s high quality, it doesn’t have a nonstick coating, and the supply chain.
I hope this helps you navigate the world of cast iron pans and that you find a brand that works for you.
~The Allergy Chef
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