Are air fryers toxic? We weigh up the facts
If you're on TikTok then it's very likely that you've come across a swath of videos that claim that air fryers are toxic. It's a subject that's been bubbling away with various news outlets, too, so now it's our turn to conduct some investigations of our own.
Over the past few years, we've seen the popularity of the best air fryers rocket, especially since many of us have been turning our attention to saving money, eating more healthily and cooking foods faster. You can cook more in an air fryer than you might expect, too, including air fryer eggs and even air fryer cheese on toast,
which could see many of your other counter-top appliances becoming redundant.
Hearing that air fryers might be toxic has had us rattled, so, with this in mind, we've done some digging and spoken to an expert to put any concerns to bed.
Are air fryers toxic?
Over the past couple of weeks there's been a rise in TikTok videos concerning the safety concerns of air fryers.
The biggest worry has been about whether air fryers release toxic chemicals such as BPA, PFOA, and PFA (also known as Teflon or Xylan) when heated.
For more than a decade now, DuPont, a manufacturer of Teflon, has been in a legal battle. Until 2013, Teflon was produced with Perfluorooctanoic acid, or PFOA or C-8. Studies have found that PFOA, in particular, has been linked with several diseases – which it is claimed DuPont has been aware about as far back as 1961.
More recently, some air fryer users have stated that they've been feeling unwell, which is subsequently being linked to the use of this dangerous material. The CEO of My Cleanse Plan, Jim Finley, has taken a look into air fryers and assessed whether or not they're actually toxic.
"There has been some concern about whether air fryers can release toxic chemicals when heated. While it's true that some air fryers may produce harmful compounds when heated to high temperatures, it's important to note that not all air fryers are created equal.
"Some air fryers are made with materials that are more likely to release harmful chemicals when heated, while others are made with safer materials such as stainless steel or ceramic. Additionally, the type of food being cooked and the temperature at which it's cooked can also affect the formation of harmful compounds." says Jim.
"Research on the safety of air fryers is ongoing, and while there have been some studies that have raised concerns about the potential health risks associated with the use of air fryers, the overall consensus is that air fryers are generally safe to use."
To investigate further, we carried out some in-house research into the non-stick coating used by a couple of our readers' favorite brands: Cosori and Ninja.
The Cosori air fryer’s basket, tray and other accessories are made from stainless steel or aluminium, with a coated surface to make them non-stick. This coating is usually BPA/PFOA-free Teflon or stainless steel. So, yes, the Cosori air fryer does use Teflon, but it's the type considered safe by manufacturers and health experts, including the American Cancer Society, since there are no proven threats after consumption.
Aside from the materials used to make the accessories, the Cosori air fryer has a rigid plastic body and smooth matte coating. The non-toxic, non-stick surface used in all of the brand's air fryers are free from nasties, while also make cleaning either by hand or dishwasher super easy.
Ninja's range of air fryer are more premium, commanding a price that's often more than double that of a Cosori air fryer.
The Ninja air fryer accessories are ceramic coated to ensure they're non-stick. This coating can withstand super-high temperatures of up to 850ºF/450ºC, although most air fryers offer a maximum temperature setting of 450ºF / 230ºC, and gives the air fryer its dishwasher-safe status.
Note that a ceramic coating can make accessories a little heavier than those that are BPA/PFOA-free Teflon or stainless steel coated.
Verdict: Are air fryers toxic?
If you've been worrying since news hit your feed that air fryers are toxic then now is the time to stop, because the general consensus from experts, and us, is that they are safe to use.
While some air fryers can release fumes when they're first used, to our knowledge, this isn't anything to be concerned about.
Remember: since 2013, any air fryers manufactured using Teflon will not contain the harmful Perfluorooctanoic acid, or PFOA or C-8. To err on the side of caution, check that your air fryer has either a BPA/PFOA-free Teflon, stainless steel or ceramic coating. We'd also advise that you use silicone utensils with your air fryer, and to wash it by hand to protect the non-stick coating.
You may also find that some parts of your air fryer – the basket, for example – will need replacing after a few years of use, as a result of the non-stick coating wearing away.
Now that your minds are at ease, it's a good time to try out some surprising foods to cook in an air fryer with your new found confidence. Alternatively, if you're still on the fence about whether or not o purchase an air fryer, then check out our guide to are air fryers worth it?