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Turkey is a main dish with many families during Thanksgiving or holiday season. Turkey is often cooked in the oven and we share this delicious turkey with our families and guests. However, are all bakeware safe to cook turkey in? After all, we don’t want to end up eating gravy and turkey containing chemicals. Some bakeware releases toxic chemicals while turkey is being cooked in it. So then how some bakeware can be toxic? In this post, I share with you what bakeware materials to avoid cooking turkey in and what non toxic turkey roasting pans are available.
Ways You Can Cook Turkey In The Oven
First, let’s take a look at some ways to cook turkey in the oven.
Turkey Roasting Bags
You basically put a turkey in the plastic bag and cook for long hours. The juice of the turkey will be gathered in the bottom of the bag for gravy. This method offers very convenient, easy way to cook turkey. Nothing sticks to the bakeware for cleanup.
Turkey Roasting Pans
Turkey roasting pan usually comes with a roasting rack that fits inside of the pan. You place a turkey on the rack and it keeps the turkey from touching the bottom of a pan. Turkey juice is then collected in the bottom for gravy. Turkey doesn’t sit on the bottom of the pan so cleaning the pan is easier.
Turkey Vertical Roasting Racks
This is same idea as a turkey roasting pan. Turkey is placed vertically on the vertical rack and it doesn’t touch the bottom of the pan. Since the turkey is placed vertically, the rack and the pan is much smaller than the horizontal roasting pans. Turkey touches bakeware the least in this method but you have to make sure the height of your oven fits the turkey vertically. You can also cook other meats such as chicken or duck this way since they are much easier to fit in the oven vertically.
What To Avoid In Turkey Bakeware
Avoid Turkey Roasting Bags
Turkey roasting bags are typically made of food grade, heat resistant polyester or nylon. They are approved by the FDA for cooking and usually BPA and phthalate-free. However, plastics in general leach chemicals especially in high heat. Just because a product is BPA free doesn’t mean it is chemical free or toxic free. According to a study in Environmental Health Perspectives, most plastic products release chemicals that act like the sex hormone estrogen. The study found that even products that don’t contain BPA released estrogenic chemicals. Estrogenic chemicals disrupt hormone and cause negative health effects including breast, ovarian, testicular, and prostate cancers (visit this company’s site for more info). A study published in US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, volatile and non-volatile compounds leached into skin and juice of a chicken while roasting a chicken in the microwave and roasting bags. Although the amount transferred didn’t present a hazard, chemicals did get released during cooking. Another study published in US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, stated that about half of the tested food in polyethylene terephthalate (PET) oven-proof trays and PET roasting bags (prepared at a temperature of 180 degrees C) exceeded the specific antimony migration limit set for food contact material by the European Commission. Antimony can cause diarrhea, nausea, depression, vomiting and heart problems. To reduce the exposure to chemicals in plastics, Breastcancer.org recommends not to cook food in plastic containers or use roasting/steaming bags.
Avoid Non Stick Bakeware
Many turkey roasting pans have non stick coating to prevent turkey from stick to the pan or rack. Non stick bakeware provides convenience. You don’t have to use lots of oil when cooking in non stick bakeware and cleanup is easy since food doesn’t stick to the pans. However, non stick pan is coated with a material called polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE). Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) also known as Teflon has toxic chemicals called Perfluorooctanioic acid (PFOA or C8) and Perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS). These toxic chemicals can cause testicular cancer, kidney cancer, thyroid disorders, decreased fertility, changes in growth, learning and behavior of the developing fetus and child. At temperature above 500°F (260°C), PTFE non stick coating starts to deteriorate and release toxic chemicals and fumes. Also, if the non stick coating is scratched or damaged, toxic chemicals can also leach into food. Some non stick coatings do not contain PFOA or PFOS and they are advertised as PFOA-free or PFOS-free. However, replacement chemicals for PFOA or PFOS are supposedly also toxic as well. Therefore, avoid all non stick bakeware if possible. Toxic fumes of PTFE can also kill birds. There are numerous incidents pet birds have died when non stick pan was used in the house. Some turkey roasting pans with a rack comes with a non stick rack so you may want to check if all parts of a turkey roasting pans including a rack do not have non stick coating.
Avoid Reactive Bakeware Materials
Some cookware material is reactive which means cookware reacts with food when cooking and releases chemicals into the food. Reactive materials include aluminum and copper. Aluminum is light and heats food evenly. However, Aluminum releases aluminum into food especially cooking salty or acidic food or for long duration of time. Aluminum is a concern because elevated amount of aluminum has been found in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease. There is also a concern that use of aluminum-containing antiperspirants may cause a breast cancer. This means there is a possibility Aluminum can be deposited in our body and can have serious health effects. Aluminum cookware is often anodized or coated with non stick layer. Aluminum is anodized to make it stronger, durable and non-reactive to foods. Anodized aluminum cookware leaches about 35 micrograms of aluminum into food during cooking which is not an amount to cause health hazard. However, it still releases aluminum which can accumulate in your body if you use the cookware on a daily basis. It may also release more amount of aluminum if the surface of the cookware is damaged. In addition, anodized aluminum cookware often has non stick coating on it. Therefore, I would personally just avoid aluminum cookware.
Copper is another reactive material. Copper cookware will leach copper into food especially when cooking acidic, salty food. Eating acidic foods cooked in uncoated copper cookware can cause copper toxicity. Copper can be protected by being used only outside of the cookware or lined with stainless steel, tin or nickel so actual food doesn’t touch copper. However, the protective layer can ware off if damaged or rubbed hard with abrasive on the surface. Small amounts of coating can also be dissolved by acidic food and lose the protection against copper being in contact with food. Health Canada does not recommend copper cookware with tin or nickel coating. Copper cookware with nickel, for example, will release nickel into food which can cause allergic reactions to some people.
Ceramic or enameled cast iron material can contain lead and cadmium which can leach into food. Lead and cadmium are both toxic chemicals which can accumulate in our body and cause serious health effects including poisoning or cancer. I would recommend to purchase ceramic or enameled cast iron bakeware from a reputable companies that has been tested. Some ceramic cookware is coated with non stick coating which contains toxic chemicals such as PTFE. There are also ceramic coated non stick cookware which is free of PTFE but it may contain nanoparticles which can enter our bodies through air or food.
Non Toxic Turkey Bakeware
Then what turkey bakeware is safe? You can cook turkey in a turkey roasting pan or a turkey vertical roasting rack. However, I couldn’t find much vertical roasting racks that I liked. Therefore, I mainly listed non toxic turkey roasting pans.
For the material, I would choose stainless steel. Stainless steel is a moderately reactive material. It is much less reactive than copper or aluminum. Stainless steel contains nickel and chromium and can leach nickel, iron and chromium when cooking salty or acidic food. Our body uses chromium and iron so unless you already have chromium or iron related health issues, it shouldn’t be a concern. Too much nickel, however, is not good for our health. Some people are allergic to nickel.
Most common stainless steel grade used for food is 304, 316, 430 and 304 is used the most. Most common grade used for 304 is 18/10 or 18/8. 18/10 means 18% chromium and 10% nickel. There are also 18/0 stainless steel bakeware which contains a negligible amount of nickel (0.75%). With 18/0 stainless steel, you won’t have to worry about nickel being released. However, nickel is a corrosion resistant metal so the more nickel stainless steel contains, the more corrosion resistant it will be. Therefore, a roasting pan with 18/0 stainless steel will be a little less resistant to corrosion than the roasting pans made of 18/8 or 18/10 stainless steel.
Non Toxic Turkey Roasting Pans
All-Clad Stainless Steel Oval Roaster – Non Toxic Turkey Roasting Pans
All-Clad is one of the highest priced brands. They are known for stainless steel and copper-core product.
All-Clad Stainless Steel Oval Roaster includes a lid, a pot and a rack.
It has single ply polished stainless steel construction and it is made of 18/10 Stainless Steel.
20.36 x 13.74 x 8 inches
Viking 3 Ply Stainless Steel Oval Roaster – Non Toxic Turkey Roasting Pans
Viking 3 Ply Stainless Steel Oval Roaster includes a lid, a pot and a rack.
It has 3-ply construction (18/8 stainless steel interior, aluminum alloy core for even heat distribution, induction capable magnetic stainless steel exterior)
It cooks turkey up to 14 lbs.
19 x 11.25 x 7.25 inches
Camerons 3 Ply Stainless Steel Multi Roaster – Non Toxic Turkey Roasting Pans
Camerons 3 Ply Stainless Steel Multi Roaster includes a lid (4 quart saute pan), a rack and an extra large 11 quart pot.
It has 3 ply construction for even and consistent heating and is made of 18/10 stainless steel.
18.6 x 12.4 x 6.7 inches
Fox Run Stainless Steel Oval Roaster – Non Toxic Turkey Roasting Pans
Fox Run Stainless Steel Oval Roaster includes a lid, a pot and a rack.
It is a 10 quart oval roaster.
It is made of 18/0 stainless steel. Rack is chrome-plated.
18/0 stainless steel means it contains a negligible amount of nickel (0.75%). Therefore, you don’t have to worry about nickel leaching during long duration of cooking with this roasting pan. However, this roaster will be a little less resistant to corrosion than the roasters made of 18/8 or 18/10 stainless steel since it contains no nickel. In addition, the rack is chrome-plated rather than made of stainless steel. Stainless steel has more durability than chrome.
12 x 18.5 x 8 inches
Precise Heat Multi-Baker/Roaster – Non Toxic Turkey Roasting Pans
Precise Heat Multi-Baker/ Roaster includes a pot, a rack and a saute pan (lid).
It is made of T304 Stainless Steel. (18/8 or 18/10)
It cooks up to 24-25 lbs of turkey.
20″ x 12″ x 8-1/4 inches
Turkey Vertical Roasting Racks
Livilan Stainless Steel Vertical Meat Roaster Stand Rack
Livilan Turkey Vertical Roasting Rack is made of food grade stainless steel. However, there is not much information about their stainless steel other than being food grade. (Most common stainless steel grade used for food is 304, 316, 430 and 304 is used the most. Most common grade used for 304 is 18/10 or 18/8.) I included this vertical roasting rack for you to see so that you can get an idea about a vertical roasting rack.
7.5 x 6.7 x 1.4 inches
Some bakeware can be toxic by releasing toxic chemicals while food is being cooked. Not all bakeware is safe. Turkey is often cooked in the oven for a long duration of time. Therefore, it is exposed to cooking material for a while. Turkey roasting bags which is made of plastic materials may release toxic chemicals such as estrogenic chemicals or antimony. Convenient non stick cookware can contain toxic chemicals such as PFOA or PFOS. Even PFOA-free or PFOS-free non stick cookware may be harmful. Reactive material such as aluminum or copper may also be toxic. Ceramic or enameled cast iron material may also have lead or cadmium. I feel stainless steel is one of the safest material to cook turkey in. Stainless steel is a lot less reactive material compared to other materials. Any of the non toxic turkey roasting pans I listed above will be great for your turkey. I hope this post help you prepare your delicious turkey dinner in upcoming Thanksgiving or holiday season. Happy cooking!
If you are interested in non toxic cookware, please read my previous post, ‘Non Toxic Cookware Guide – What Is The Healthiest And Safest Cookware?‘
If you are interested in non toxic bakeware, please read my next post, ‘Non Toxic Bakeware Guide – Which Bakeware Is Safe And Non Toxic?‘
If you are interested in non toxic rice cookers, please read my post ‘Non Toxic Rice Cookers – Rice Cookers With A Stainless Steel Inner Pot‘.
If you want to find more about a pressure cooker, Instant Pot, please read my post, ‘Non Toxic Pressure Cooker – Is Instant Pot Pressure Cooker Non Toxic?‘