For those new to this website:
Tamara Rubin is a multiple-federal-award-winning independent advocate for childhood Lead poisoning prevention and consumer goods safety, and a documentary filmmaker. She is also a mother of Lead-poisoned children (two of her sons were acutely Lead-poisoned in 2005). Since 2009, Tamara has been using XRF technology (a scientific method used by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission) to test consumer goods for toxicants (specifically heavy metals — including Lead, Cadmium, Mercury, Antimony, and Arsenic). All test results reported on this website are science-based, accurate, and replicable. Items are tested multiple times to confirm the test results for each component tested. Tamara’s work was featured in Consumer Reports Magazine in February of 2023 (March 2023 print edition).
Originally Published: June 2014
Question from Stacy (via Facebook)
Updated: July 2018
Hello! I love your work and appreciate all the wonderful things you share with us. I was hoping you could help me with 2 things… I would love to get a slow cooker for our family. Do you have any recommendations for a non-toxic slow cooker?
Also, do you know if Corelle® Livingware™ Winter Frost White bowls and plates are non-toxic? Free of heavy metals? Thank you soooo soooo much!
We don’t currently have a slow-cooker personally. (In July of 2018 we purchased an Instant Pot, however!)
There have been a few studies testing various crock pots and slow cookers for Lead, but they are now a bit out-dated and not relevant to current products you would buy new.
As far as slow cookers go, I have tested a LOT of crock pots and slow cookers for friends and clients and many have turned up very low Lead, while a rare few have turned up completely Lead-free.
With the newer slow cookers (crock pots, etc.) with ceramic liners that are mass-manufactured for recognized brand names (Kenmore, Crock Pot, Hamilton Beach, etc.) it is very likely they have been leach tested and that the Lead I have found using an XRF instrument is a trace contaminant of the glaze or clay (in the 100 to 200 ppm range) — not an additive to the glaze or clay.
However, I am still not comfortable cooking for my family in any ceramic vessels that contain any amount of Lead — even a trace amount.
What we used to have (and used pretty much every day until early 2017) is an electric (plug-in) rice cooker with a stainless steel inner bowl (as opposed to the “non-stick”-coating-painted-aluminum bowls that are typically found in most commercially available rice cookers) — so food and steam only touches the stainless steel bowl or glass lid. This automatically switches from “cook” mode to “warm” mode when it is done cooking. However, we recently stopped using this as the heating element and electric cord (components which of course do not touch the food) were positive for high levels of Lead, too high for my comfort level.
We also historically (before the purchase of our Instant Pot) had used high quality European-made stainless pressure cookers for rice, stews, and soups. Whenever possible, we try to stick with stainless (and recommend others do the same) since it’s generally one of the least toxic/ reactive options available for cooking.
In recent years, however, we found that even several high quality stainless steel pressure cookers (sold and manufactured in the U.S., Europe, and India) brought to us for testing turned out to have valves in the lid that were very high in Lead; if any hardware inside a pressure cooker is high in Lead it is possible (and likely) that the process of pressure cooking food in the vessel will cause Lead to leach into the food!
As of this moment, I am no longer confident in recommending any brand as “Lead-free,” since I have tested valves on lids from brands I previously found to be Lead-free and later found product examples from those same brands where the valves were positive for high levels of Lead.
As for the Corelle® dishware, we have Corelle plates for our family. The ones we have are Lead-free. Nearly all of the newer Corelle that we have tested has been completely Lead-free — especially the plain white ones. We try not to vouch for any product we have not specifically tested, but with plain white Corelle I don’t think you can go wrong. Our personal (Lead-free) Corelle dishes are pictured here.
NOTE: We tested vintage Corelle that was very high in cadmium. The yellow floral pattern on one set (c. 1970s) was about 18,000 ppm cadmium. As always, exercise caution with vintage dishware.
Len & Tamara
Other links to check out: