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Air fryers are one of the hottest cooking trends currently. People are using them in the hopes that they are eating in a more healthy manner but a lot of people are making critical mistakes when using their air fryers that can lead to some major health concerns. Here is what you need to know about Air Fryers and Food Safety.
An air fryer is a kitchen appliance that cooks by circulating hot air around the food using the convection mechanism. A mechanical fan circulates the hot air around the food at high speed, cooking the food and producing a crispy layer via the Maillard effect. The Maillard effect which occurs between an amino acid and a reducing sugar in the presence of heat. It leads to alterations in the color and flavor of foods.
Cooking times vary so much with an air fryer compared to an oven or traditional deep fryer and while many people preheat their air fryer many opt to just toss the food in and set the timer. We experienced using an air fryer several years ago through some market research, but honestly it was tiny and wasn’t even worthwhile for a household of 3. Since then things have changed so much and the newer versions feed a family quite well, but the real question is: how safe is this?
There are websites that tell us things that we should avoid but a lot of those include but are not limited to allowing the air fryer space to “breathe” when you decide where to place it. Personally I like mine to have the most room it can have so I make sure that it isn’t too close to any walls or anything. I also like to use it near the vent in the kitchen just because I am not really big on food smells.
Air Fryer Reviewed really hit on some legit food safety concerns though:
Ever been to a fried food takeaway joint and been hit by that unattractively strong smell of seasoned oil? It’s not pleasant at all. If you treat your air fryer like a deep fryer, expect it to smell like one. Cleaning it out once a month will have your kitchen smelling like a deep-fried take-out restaurant.
You may also notice your deep fryer will smoke a lot more if not cleaned after every cook; this can negatively affect the taste of the food. And lastly, you’ll put yourself at a much higher risk of food contamination if you do this. Aim to clean your air fryer after every meal that’s cooked in it.
The air fryer isn’t difficult to clean. Just use hot water with a bit of dishwashing liquid. Let the basket soak as long as it needs so you don’t have to scrub off baked-on food. Three minutes of your time will keep your air fryer fresh, your tummy safe and your kitchen won’t stink.
Many people worry about cross contamination in air fryers as well. This is a definite alarm for anyone who suffers from food allergies. It would be very hard to clean all of the internal parts of a fryer if say for example you have a shellfish allergy and someone air fried some breaded shrimp. A strong consideration for anyone looking into the possibility of air frying.
For those who think that there is no need to check internal temperatures when you air fry this can lead to major disasters such as foodborne illness. You want to make sure that you are practicing the same sanitary precautions as well as cooking precautions as you would with any other method of cooking. While I personally do not cook a lot of raw meats in the air fryer aside from an occasional steak (and the entire unit gets washed after this because of the meat and wanting to be careful about things like Salmonella and Ecoli) I know many people who cook chicken wings and other small meat portions inside their air fryers. A traditional internal thermometer works wonders when checking the temperatures just like when using a deep fryer or even the oven.
Healthline features a lot of great health benefits of using an air fryer.
Some manufacturers claim that using an air fryer can cut the fat content of fried foods by up to 75%.
This is because air fryers require significantly less fat than traditional deep fryers. While many recipes for deep-fried dishes call for up to 3 cups (750 ml) of oil, air-fried foods need only about 1 tablespoon (15 ml).
This means that deep fryers use up to 50 times more oil than air fryers and, while not all of that oil is absorbed by the food, using an air fryer can significantly cut down on the overall fat content of your food.
One study compared the characteristics of deep-fried and air-fried french fries and found that air-frying resulted in a final product with substantially less fat but a similar color and moisture content.
If you’re looking to trim your waistline, swapping your deep-fried foods for air-fried foods can be a good place to start.
Clocking in at 9 calories in every gram of fat, dietary fat contains over twice as many calories per gram as other macronutrients like protein and carbohydrates.
Air-fried foods may be healthier than deep-fried foods in several ways.
They are lower in fat, calories and even some potentially harmful compounds that are found in traditionally fried foods.
If you’re looking to lose weight or lower your fat intake without modifying or cutting down on fried foods, switching to an air fryer may be a good choice.
However, keep in mind that just because it may be a better option than deep-frying doesn’t mean that it’s a great option when it comes to your overall health.
Compared to deep-frying, using an air fryer can reduce the amount of fat, calories and potentially harmful compounds in your food. You still have to practice food safety protocol when handling foods prior and after being cooked.
Air-fried foods are still fried foods and eating them on a regular basis may be associated with adverse health conditions.
Although air fryers may be a better alternative to deep fryers, limiting your intake of fried foods altogether is the best option when it comes to your health.
Everything in moderation.
By: Samantha Cooper, Contributing Writer (Non-Lawyer)