Some people use copper utensils for cooking. Copper has a natural presence in the human body along with many other minerals, metals and irons. Some are essential to the body, but they must be in perfect balance or they can be harmful. Many people are unsure as to when it is safe to use copper utensils.
Copper Food Reactions
Some foods have a naturally bad reaction to copper and other minerals and metals. You should not store pickled foods inside copper containers, as the vinegar will react against it. Milk is dangerous for storing inside copper vessels, as are dairy products such as butter and cream. They will react with the metal and can cause copper poisoning. Anything citrus, like lemon juice, lime juice and orange juice, is unsafe. Yogurt also is a dubious thing to store inside copper because the acidic properties can react against the copper too. It is not advisable to eat or drink food and liquid from copper containers.
The Dangers of Copper Ingestion
Gastrointestinal problems are a direct result of copper over-ingestion. Gastroenteritis symptoms are identical and can confuse diagnosis because you will experience vomiting, diarrhea and cramp-like stomachaches. You might also have a metallic taste in your mouth and feel lethargic and weak. The symptoms will pass, but only if they are diagnosed correctly. The body can process copper in small amounts, but if you ingest it over repeated long periods of time, it can still cause related symptoms if left untreated. The resulting symptoms will increase, and you will start to experience dizziness as well.
Unlined Copper Utensils
Avoid using copper cooking pans which are unlined. The insides should be lined with a safe material like stainless steel in order to prevent over-consumption of copper components. The same rules apply to aluminum pans and utensils too. The effects are similar, as both metals are highly absorbent to foods.
Babies and Young Children
You should not use copper utensils when preparing foods for babies or younger children. If you have been using copper utensils and your toddler has displayed symptoms similar to those of gastroenteritis, you could well be looking at the cause of the problem. Always use stainless steel or Teflon cookware when you prepare meals for younger children, especially those than cannot speak to relate the symptoms to you.
Some foods can burn into the copper pan or utensil and for safety reasons, they should not be used thereafter. Once food has made its mark on a copper saucepan or skillet, it will leave a residue which can illness from copper contamination more likely.
If you cook with copper and the food gets stuck on, you should throw the saucepan away. Or you can take it for treatment and relining, at some expense, if you wish to retain it and use again.
It’s important to know when not to use copper utensils. As you can see, your health depends on it. Just follow this guide to keep you and your family safe!