In case you haven't been in the know about food trends lately, the Instant Pot is taking the world by storm. It is popular with moms who need to get dinner ready fast (and may have forgotten to thaw meat before they left to go to work) as well as healthy lifestyles advocates because it is free of non-stick coatings like Teflon (read more about health concerns related to non-stick coatings here). Maybe you even have one in your kitchen.
I recently bought an Instant Pot for myself and love it. This weekend I had the chance to work with my friend and lead safety advocate, Tamara Rubin, to test my Instant Pot for heavy metal contaminants including lead. Wondering if your Instant Pot is really as non-toxic and lead free as you thought? Read on!
Why I Bought an Instant Pot
Before we get going too far, let's talk about why the heck I bought this thing in the first place.
- The stainless steel pot. Many counter top rice cookers, slow cookers and pressure cookers contain unsafe chemicals including lead, cadmium and non-stick coatings. The Instant Pot boasts a stainless steel cooking surface instead - which is generally considered an ideal surface for food due to its nontoxic nature.
- I like rice. "But it's so easy to just cook it on the stove in a stainless steel pot." Sure it is. As long as you aren't chasing a child or a chicken or a dog when the timer for the rice goes off so you can remove it from the burner so it doesn't burn. Not that I'd know anything about that....
I own a rice cooker and it is the only thing I own with a nonstick coating. Nonstick coatings are concerning because they often contain PTFE, PFOA and PFAS (read more about toxic nonstick coatings here). Stainless steel rice cookers (that are stainless steel on the inside where it counts) are hard to find.
- Multipurpose appliances save space. The Instant Pot is a rice cooker, pressure cooker, slow cooker, yogurt maker and warmer. It can replace both my rice cooker and slow cooker which helps me reduce clutter in my cabinets.
- Convenience. Sometimes I forget to defrost my meat or soak my beans. Can you relate? The Instant Pot's pressure cooking function means I can speed up the process of cooking those foods significantly so that I can still get dinner on the table on time.
So that's why I like it. And I wanted to keep liking it! But let's talk about lead shall we?
Tamara Rubin, the producer and director of MisLead: America's Secret Epidemic and renowned lead expert rented an XRF testing instrument this week to do some consumer goods testing. An XRF instrument is a precision scientific instrument which can detect even trace amount of heavy metals including lead, arsenic, cadmium, mercury and more.
Here is a video of the Tamara and I testing my Instant Pot (click here to see the specific model we are testing), which was purchased in December of 2016.
What we found when we tested different parts of the Instant Pot with an XRF Instrument:
- Stainless steel inner cooking pot: Non-Detect for Lead, Cadmium and Mercury
- Stainless steel lid (outside of lid): Non-Detect for Lead, Cadmium and Mercury
- Inner portion of steam release valve: Non-Detect for Lead, Cadmium and Mercury
- Anti-Block shield: Non-Detect for Lead, Cadmium and Mercury
- Power Cable: Non-Detect for Lead, Cadmium and Mercury
- Float Valve: Non-Detect for Lead, Cadmium and Mercury
- Steam Release: Non-Detect for Lead, Cadmium and Mercury
- Steaming rack: Non-Detect for Lead, Cadmium and Mercury
- Plastic tools: Non-Detect for Lead, Cadmium and Mercury
- Exterior pot: Non-Detect for Lead, Cadmium and Mercury
- Heating unit disk: 1,400 PPM lead +/- 90 and 46 PPM cadmium +/- 11
- Safety button in base of unit: 303 PPM for Lead +/- 36, Non detect for Cadmium and Mercury
So what does that mean?!
There are two key things to keep in mind when looking at these results:
- 1) All of the parts which contact your food directly tested negative for lead. Yay!
- 2) The amount of lead in the heating unit disk, while significant, is still less than the amount of lead that was in any of the Starbucks cups/mugs we tested.
So what does that mean for you?
I can really only tell you what it means for me. I am of the opinion that we should avoid lead in our household goods as much as possible. If another company creates a lead-free version of the Instant Pot, you can bet I am going to buy that one instead! If Instant Pot makes a new and improved lead-free Instant Pot, you can bet I will pay to upgrade! However, I am not throwing my Instant Pot away (unlike my child's favorite mug which tested high for lead on the rim where your mouth touches the mug - but that's a story for a different day).
Tamara also wrote her own blog post with her thoughts on the test. Go here to read that!
About the Author:
Carissa is a green lifestyle advocate and mom of two active boys. The owner and lead writer for Creative Green Living, she is also the author of two e-books including the best-selling beverage cookbook, Infused: Recipes for Herb & Fruit Infused Water, Tea and More as well as the forthcoming hardcover cookbook (spring 2017), Beautiful Smoothie Bowls. Her goal is to empower families to make easy projects and healthier choices that are beautiful and delicious! Follow her on Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter or join the Creative Green Living community group.
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