Please read the full post
(below the linked report from the manufacturer.)
December 11, 2020 – Friday
In response to the original article I wrote – with the testing results for the XRF testing (total metals content testing) we did on the Always Pan (link here), readers of the Lead Safe Mama, LLC website contacted Our Place (the makers of the Always Pan) and asked to see the company’s (promised) test results. The report above (click the image and it will link you to a full PDF of the report they are sending out to people with inquires) is now being sent to folks making this inquiry, along with the response below (which is a screenshot from a Lead Safe Mama reader on Instagram):
Since Our Place started sharing these “test results”readers have been reaching out to me asking me to give feedback on the report and response from Our Place.
Here’s one e-mail from a reader:
(continue reading below the image)
Here’s my response (which is covered to a large degree in my initial article, but I will try to use this space to highlight the specifics relevant to the question above):
What I know from the information provided on the Our Place website and from their “test report”above.
- The Always Pan marketing materials state that the coatings of the pan are Lead-free [although they appear to have changed some the language slightly on their website since my original post – see language noticed today in screenshot at the bottom of the page].
- The “test report” above provided by Our Place and produced by “Bureau Veritas Shenzhen Co, LTD” (which is not an agency that I had heard of before, but – according to this webpage, and this Wikipedia entry – appears to be a Chinese subsidiary of a European agency that does food-use-product testing) indicates that some form of testing may have been done on three components of the pan.
- The three components tested were:
- Component #1) The inside “grey” coating
- Component #2) the exterior “spice” coating and
- Component #3) the “Transparent, Spice coatings” [which I am interpreting to mean the silicone components of the handle and the knob on the lid.]
- The manufacturer’s “report” indicates that total metals content was done looking specifically (and only) for the following five metals:
- Lithium [? – this is an odd one, for a couple of reasons]
- This test report was completed / issued to the manufacturer (?) on December 8, 2020. (I find it interesting that this was the day after my blog post was published).
- The testing “report” is for only one color variant of the pan (the “Spice” colored pan).
- No testing appears to have been done on the substrate of the pan (the core component – the pan itself beneath the non-stick coating).
- The test results of this report are in mg/kg (milligrams per kilograms) which is equivalent to ppm (parts per million).
- The test results state that the readings for the five metals for which the product was tested were all found to be “Non Detect” (ND).
- The report does not indicate the low threshold of detection for the testing done. The low threshold of detection is normally specified on legitimate laboratory tests.
- The report does not indicate the margin of error for the testing done. The margin of error is normally specified on legitimate laboratory tests.
- The report also does not state the testing methodology [which is extremely unusual for an official report from a legitimate testing lab]. The most common laboratory testing methodologies are generally XRF (X-ray Fluorescence analysis) or GS-FID (Gas chromatography – Flame Ionization Detector analysis; this is sometimes called “destructive” or “digestive” testing) Testing methodology is normally clearly identified on legitimate laboratory tests.
- In the absence of appropriate details being provided (the low threshold of detection, the margin of error, and the testing methodology) the accuracy of the report cannot be determined, and these missing bits of information call into question the legitimacy of the report.
- The emphasis in the response to consumers, and the original website language is that the “ceramic” coatings have been tested and confirmed to be Lead-free.
- Depending on whether or not the testing (i.e. the “report” shared by the company) is legitimate — which it may be, although it is missing several key data parameters, as noted above — it is possible that the coatings are indeed Lead-free.
- I find it interesting that this “testing” also indicates the product is Cobalt-free — when the Cobalt level in the bottom of the pan (based on the XRF testing I conducted and reported on in my original post) was quite high (coming in at 16,600 ppm). However (depending on testing methodology used), if the components were tested separately (I.e. if the coating was tested not in-situ on the pan) that bit of information could be explained by the consideration that the substrate of the lower half of the pan is the component that is positive for Cobalt (not the coating).
- In my original article I asserted that it was possible (and likely, given testing I have done on other similar products) that the Lead that I found with the XRF testing I did was a contaminant of the Aluminum substrate. As no data for the substrate appears in the documentation from the manufacturer (other than their marketing materials stating that the substrate is, at least in part, Aluminum), their “report” does not refute the possibility of the substrate being made of Lead-contaminated Aluminum. In fact the report from the company supports my findings (in that – if the coating is, in fact, Lead-free – then the XRF is likely reading through the Lead-free coating to a Lead-contaminated substrate.)
- The new language (see screenshot at bottom of page – I believe it is new, as I just found it on the blog today and did not notice it previously) emphasizes (perhaps in response to my test results) that “no heavy metals are able to pass through the coating” – I believe this is a CYA statement, given the metals that were indisputably present as detected – via XRF testing – in the sample I tested (as noted in my original post.)
- To reiterate: assuming the “report” they shared is the result of legitimate, accurate laboratory analysis (a fairly large leap, given the date on the document and the missing information in the report – but let’s just give them that for the moment) the company’s documentation actually supports my concern that the substrate is likely made of Lead-contaminated Aluminum.
- I therefore still have concern for potential future exposure to toxicants (Lead and other metals) if/when the coating is damaged or scratched.
While the emphasis in the manufacturer’s marketing has been on the lack of toxicity of the coating, in my opinion (based on feedback from readers), 9 out of 10 people purchasing the pan did so with the understand that the entire pan was a non-toxic alternative – free of Lead and other toxic metals (not just the coating). It seems like some of the marketing materials and statements may have been parsed to support that inference.
Below is a screenshot of a post from Mindful Momma – which includes language broken out in to bullet points in a way that is supportive of my assertion that the considerations that the pan is “Lead Free” has been perceived by both customers and bloggers as separate from the consideration about the nature of the non-stick coating (consumers are assuming it has a non-toxic coating AND that the pan as a whole is Lead-free.) I would love to see the original press release or marketing package that went out about these pans (to see how the language was parsed there!)
I stand by my findings — that these pans tested positive (using highly-accurate, replicable XRF analysis) for 14 different metals (as noted in my original post), and that buyers need that information to make informed decisions. It is also my professional opinion that, given the specific metals that were found using XRF testing, marketing for this pan has been misleading, at best.
That is all. Thanks for reading.
Screenshot from Always Pan / Our Place website below: