Is eating food cooked on a chromed cast iron griddle a health concern?
A discussion started in 2003 but continuing through 2017(2003)
Q. I am remodeling a 63 year old kitchen that I have been living in for 10 years.
It's in a rural area and I am keeping the simple country look. I have purchased a 1950's gas stove which will be converted to propane use.
The griddle is made of cast iron which was originally coated with another substance. I was told it was originally coated with chrome but am not sure this is correct. I am doing cosmetic work on the stove to make it close to new looking.
I am worried about the griddle being safe to use as a cooking source. I have been told conflicting info and am not sure what to believe. I am looking for facts and I hope you can help.
The griddle is worn down to the cast iron in most of the cooking area of the griddle. It looks bad compared to the restored look of the stove and I need to decide what to do. I do not care that it looks "spiffy" but that it works and is safe.
Is it ok to re-chrome the griddle and eat the food that is cooked on it? I was told by one stove dealer that if you chrome the griddle it should not be used for cooking anymore but for looks only. Another dealer told me that you can chrome the griddle and use it to cook on, and that it was the way the griddles came originally anyways.
Can I have the griddle re-surfaced and cook directly on the cast iron? I understand if I do this it will have to deal with keeping it seasoned to avoid rust.
Any info on the safest way to make on old cast iron griddle safe to use and look nice will be greatly appreciated. CarolCarol Flores
- San Diego, California, U.S.A.
A. Yes it is safe to cook on.Simon Dupay
- Roseville, Minnesota
Q. Thanks for responding to my question about the safety of cooking on chrome plated cast iron. I need to know the source of the information you provided that it is safe. Since I am getting conflicting information on this subject I would like to know on what resource of facts determined that it is safe. Please anyone that can share this info with me to respond. Thanks!Carol Flores
- San Diego, California, U.S.A.
A. If you search the internet using the following phrase metallic chromium toxicity you'll find plenty of references referring to the non-toxicity of metallic chromium. In fact in my oven at home all my baking racks are Ni/Cr plated as are almost, if not all the ones I see for sale. I would hazard a guess that people are confusing the element metallic chromium with some of its compounds such as Cr VI which is toxic. Though personally I would prefer to cook on a seasoned griddle, not for health reasons just personal preference.
- Lowestoft, U.K.
A. No-one in their right mind will give you a cast iron, legally binding certainty that using a chromium plated article will not be harmful to you. If you want to know about its potential hazards, you must refer to an MSDS for chromium metal; this is freely available on the internet. Chromium is usually considered to be safe as it is an essential part of stainless steel and most people cook with stainless steel utensils without any adverse effects. However, if you are using chromium plated articles you have to be aware that if they are not done correctly and are not fit for purpose, you may run the risk of losing adhesion of the chromium layer by thermal cycling, thereby causing the adhesion bond to fail. In this event, you could end up getting flakes of chromium metal in your food. These flakes could be very thin and will have sharp edges that could (conceivably) lacerate your mouth, gullet and gastric tract. I could envisage this happening on a chromium plated griddle where it exposed to quite high thermal cycles and could have abrasion from any spatulas used on the griddle. If you want to use a chromium plated griddle that has been restored, get a professional chromium plater to do it and get written confirmation that the process used will ensure extremely good adhesion even when thermally cycled.
R&D practical scientist
Chesham, Bucks, UK
March 19, 2013
Q. Hi. I was going to buy a mixer until I saw it had Chrome plated blades and dough hooks- I am wondering if this is a safe substance to work with food? Can it leach into the batter?
Thanks so much!
- Boston, Massachusetts, USA
March , 2013
A. Hi Christa. When we consider powerful new pharmaceuticals, double-blind tests are run for their safety, and we can say with good surety exactly how safe they are or aren't. But when you talk about products used around the house for the last 80 years and more, there is just no such thing as a yes/no, safe vs. unsafe answer, or even quantitatively saying how safe or unsafe they are.
Is a glass of red wine a day safe, or two cups of coffee, or two glasses of milk? There is a new guess every month, with data like 2% higher chance of cancer, but 4% lower risk of heart disease, plus 3% higher chance of liver disorder, but minus 1% chance of dementia.
So when you ask whether the chrome plating on mixer blades is "safe", all we can really say is that chrome plating has been used on kitchen stuff for something like 80 years now and nothing ever jumped out to make researchers concerned. I'm personally not concerned whatsoever, but you will find "alternative medicine editors" who are concerned about every single material you can name. I feel that stainless steel blades are no "safer", but would probably usually be longer lasting. Good luck.
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Pine Beach, New Jersey
July 29, 2017
Q. I bought a 1940's O'keefe & Merritt stove. The grill has been worn done from chrome to copper-looking to bottom layer. Is it safe to cook foods on? Also, can I D-I-Y re-chrome in any way or will it need to be professionally redone?Shery Litster
- Lancaster, California Usa
A. Hi Shery. Copper is not generally considered a food-safe cooking surface. For a century or more tradespeople have done periodic retinning of copper pots & pans for that reason. If you could get a consistent copper surface, it might be vaguely possible to do that old-world retinning yourself, but you cannot do chrome plating yourself.
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey
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