Stainless steel cookware is durable and typically resists scratching, but stainless pots and pans can begin to release certain metal components if scratched or gouged. Despite this metallic release, cooking with scratched stainless steel cookware is generally safe.
Stainless steel cookware with light to moderate scratches, according to nutrition expert Rebecca Wood, should be safe for most uses. Stainless cookware with heavy scratches may accelerate the release of some chemicals, though, and food prepared in damaged stainless cookware could irritate those with allergies or sensitivity to metals.
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When a stainless steel pot or pan receives a gouge or a scratch, it begins to lose nickel and chromium during use. These metals can adhere to the food, and be consumed. Website Eartheasy notes that neither nickel nor chromium is toxic in small quantities, but those with allergies to these metals may become ill after eating food prepared in scratched stainless steel cookware.
Clean stainless steel cookware with light pressure and nonabrasive materials. In addition, the cooking website Tammy's Recipes recommends avoiding metal utensils when cooking with stainless steel cookware, and choosing bamboo, nylon, or silicone utensils instead.