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**BREAKING MATFER RECALL NEWS**: 

**Below is what I just received from Matfer regarding the recent recall of some of their carbon steel pans in France. I sent them 22 questions and here are their answers, as well as details about the testing that led to the recall. Discussion and new YouTube video to follow soon! I feel much better after reading this.**

Scott,

 

Sorry for the delay in getting back to you and thank you for these great questions. We appreciate your longstanding support of our products and we wanted to take the time to gather all the information from France so that you can be assured of what we know:  There is nothing to be concerned about regarding our black carbon steel cookware.

 

Here’s a roundup of the basic facts about what has occurred in France, and then we’ll dive into your questions:

 

  • All Matfer Bourgeat Black Carbon Steel Cookware, and the raw materials from which they are made, fully comply with the stringent food safety standards set forth by the French governing body DGCCRF, which is part of the French Ministry for the Economy Industry and Digital Affairs. (Equivalent to the USA’s FDA).

 

  • In addition to adhering to federal and EU regulations, our factory and products undergo rigorous oversight by Department-level governing bodies, akin to State-level Departments of Health in the USA. Recently, the Direction Departementale de la Protection des Populations (DDPP), of Isère, where our factory is located, conducted a random test of our 062002 Black Carbon Steel Fry Pan. Comparatively, it’s like if our factory was based in Vermont, and the Vermont Department of Health issued a random quality test.

 

  • We find the testing method employed by the DDPP to be unrepresentative of the reasonable use of the product. It’s important to note that the testing methodology employed by the DDPP of Isère differs from that established for carbon steel cookware by the European Union, the French federal government and, to our knowledge, every other département in France. For the first time, the DDPP of Isère tested our black carbon steel pan by boiling a 5g/L citric acid solution in an unseasoned black carbon steel fry pan for 2 hours. Based solely on this test, they concluded that the product exceeded legal limits for the migration (aka leeching) of iron, arsenic, and chromium, or leeching.

 

  • Département -level offices in France have the right to issue national recalls on products within their jurisdiction. And based on this test and this test alone, DDPP of Isère issued a recall on our black carbon steel fry pans in France.

 

  • It is worth noting that the DGCCRF explicitly advises against using black carbon steel material with acidic foods. As you are aware, prolonged boiling of a citric acid solution in an unseasoned black carbon steel fry pan doesn’t represent how we, or any other brand, or experts like yourself, would recommend using the product, and obviously may lead to unexpected reactions, including rust. These reactions can potentially alter the composition of the pan’s surface, affecting its performance and safety characteristics. Therefore, it is essential to consider the context in which these results were obtained and their relationship to real-world usage. Our legal team in France is working to dispute the recall.

 

So, that’s the basic situation. Now, specifically to your questions.

 

1. Are the pans safe to use and cook in?

 

Absolutely. All Matfer Bourgeat black carbon steel cookware continues to fully comply with the stringent food standards set forth by the DGCCRF and the European Union and may continue to be used safely for cooking.

 

2. Are the pans sold in the USA and/or Canada the same as the ones recalled in France? Is the lack of a recall in the USA and Canada just because our regulations are more lax than French regulations, or are there differences in the pans and metal? People want to know why the pans are dangerous and shouldn’t be used in France but are OK and not recalled in North America.

 

All Matfer Bourgeat black carbon steel cookware sold throughout the world are the same as the ones sold in France. All black carbon steel pans continue to be fully compliant with the stringent food safety standards set forth by the French federal government and the EU.

 

To be very clear: If used as directed, these pans are not “dangerous” and may continue to be used safely in France, the EU, the United States, Canada and throughout the world.

 

3. Have there been any negative health effects reported from using the pans?

 

No.

 

4. For the recalled pans, how much cooking would be required to generate negative health effects? Is cooking once dangerous?

 

The test by DDPP of Isère involved boiling a 5g/L citric acid solution in an unseasoned black carbon steel fry pan for 2 hours. That acidity level is roughly equivalent to boiling tomato sauce in a bare unseasoned pan for two hours straight. We’re clear in our educational materials and on the product packaging that we explicitly advise against using this product with acidic foods. And obviously, that much acidic cooking would even exceed your recommended “Nuclear Method” for stripping seasoning off pans, like you discussed in a previous YouTube video. It seems like the DDPP of Isere didn’t understand the common and reasonable use of this product, and in testing the pan in this fashion hasn’t taken into consideration the product knowledge of our customers.

 

5. If someone in the USA/Canada has a pan that would have been recalled in France and is now afraid to use it, even though not officially recalled, what should they do? Can they get a refund or exchange?

 

We contend that all Matfer Bourgeat black carbon steel cookware is safe to use, regardless of batch, lot, or country of distribution.

 

Since we sell these pans wholesale to a network of authorized distributors, returns and refunds of any kind are always handled by the retailer- so if they have questions about a return or a refund they should reach out to their point of sale.

 

That being said, all our black carbon steel fry pans remain under our limited lifetime warranty. So should customers have any performance or manufacturing issues with their pan, they can always reach out to our customer service team directly to seek a replacement, as usual.

 

6. Your FAQ says the pans were tested “as sold” and unseasoned. Were they tested after seasoning and if so how did it affect test results? Along those lines, should people add more layers of seasoning to their pans to be safe? Are more heavily seasoned pans safer than lightly seasoned pans?

 

All testing by DDPP of Isère was done just in the one way: unseasoned, filled with boiling 5g/L citric acid solution for exactly two hours. They didn’t test the product with other solutions, nor did they test it seasoned.

 

However, when we test our products per the national DGCCRF and European Union standards, we test the pans both seasoned and unseasoned and they pass both ways.

 

7. For the French regulations, are these new regulations/how long have they been in place? Did something change or become more strict recently?

 

To be clear:  These ARE NOT French federal regulations. French federal regulations pertaining to our cookware have not changed recently. This was a new test that has only been performed, to our knowledge, by only one state agency (DDPP Isere) and on one manufacturer of carbon steel pans (us.)

 

This testing performed by DDPP of Isère is the first time this particular test was performed on our (and to our knowledge, any) black carbon steel cookware. Since we are the only manufacturer of black carbon steel cookware in this Department, we are, to our knowledge, the only manufacturer whose products have been tested in this manner.

 

8. How far out of tolerance are the pans? How bad is the toxicity problem?

 

All Matfer Bourgeat black carbon steel cookware continues to fully comply with the stringent food standards set forth by the DGCCRF and the European Union. According to these guidelines, there is no toxicity problem.

 

9. The FAQs say there is an “interpretation” of the regulations. Can you expand on this? Has this always been the case or did something change? Do you think the regulators will rescind the recall order? 

 

Given our use and care instructions and the nature of the product, we don’t believe their testing represents a “reasonable use” of a black carbon steel pan.

 

We have already started the process of appealing the decision of the DDPP of Isère and believe that we will be successful in demonstrating that their test was inappropriate for this class of product. However, given the complexities of the French system, I am sure that you can appreciate that this process may take some time. We will be sure to keep you updated.

 

Please also note that during this time, all of our products continue to comply with all DGCCRF and EU standards.

 

10. With the iron, chromium, and arsenic, are these elements present in all carbon steel or was this a particularly contaminated batch of raw material? If they are present in all carbon steel, were they just out of tolerance in this batch? Or have other carbon steels not been tested?

 

None of our raw material is contaminated. All steel alloys are measured for levels of impurities. Iron, chromium, and arsenic are some of many elements that steel products are tested for by the EU. All of our carbon steel raw material comes from the EU, and all our steel vendors have to pass EU regulations in order to sell steel for food contact manufacturing. Our vendors provide those compliances to us when we purchase, and no batches of steel purchased by us have been out of tolerance. Any other manufacturer making pans in France and buying steel in the EU would be subject to these same regulations.

 

11. Is the French testing done at random or are all batches and manufacturers tested? As in, was it luck of the draw that this batch was discovered or are all pans and manufacturers tested and the testing identified the one bad batch? 

 

Our national French testing is done regularly, but the DDPP Isere test was conducted at random. Although this test was random, and the recall document mentions lot numbers, there is no such thing as a bad batch.

 

12. Where does the metal come from? Is the steel itself made in France or does it come in from abroad?

 

All of our steel is EU-sourced (mostly France and occasionally Germany) and pass EU regulations for manufacturing in food contact environments.

 

13. Were the pans sold previous to the recalled batches tested and are they safe to use? Someone write in saying they have a Matfer pan from 2020… were these tested and passed? 

 

Yes, safe to use. All Matfer Bourgeat black carbon steel cookware comply with the stringent food safety standards set forth by the DGCCRF and EU and are safe to use.

 

14. Is there more leeching of the elements based on cooking time and specific foods (acidic or fatty, etc.)? Are there any recommendations for foods to avoid?

 

French national and EU testing standards test our pans in seasoned and unseasoned environments and with a variety of test materials and solutions designed to mimic a variety of food. Our pans passed all these tests. The only test that shows leeching elements is the DDPP Isere testing method of boiling a 5g/L citric acid solution in an unseasoned black carbon steel fry pan for 2 hours.

 

As you and your audience know, and as is stated on all our packaging, black carbon steel pans are not intended to be used with highly acidic products which remove the seasoning: citrus fruits, tomatoes, peppers, wine, broth, vinegar, etc.

 

15. Do you think this is a wider problem with all carbon steel from many manufacturers or a more specific problem to this production run?

 

Our pans are subject to the EU, and France’s, famously high standards for product quality, environmental sustainability, and food safety. There are lots of other excellent manufacturers on the market who we are confident comply with all the same rules and regulations, and have the same passion for quality, that we do. We have faith in French federal and EU food safety regulations, which does not conduct this one particular test, which does not mimic real-life use conditions.

 

16. Have the pans been tested by any US or Canadian regulators?

 

No, we’re not required to pass any regular FDA or Health Canada testing to sell these products in the US or Canada. To our knowledge, The FDA and Health Canada do not have protocols or guidance for carbon steel cookware, either. We’re looking into whether we can achieve some kind of FDA approval for these products. If it exists, and it’ll add more consumer confidence to have some domestic certifications, we’d be happy to have them.

 

17. Is there any California Prop 65 warning with the pans? Have they been tested in California?

 

To our knowledge, carbon steel pans are not included in Prop 65 protocols, and as such they haven’t been tested in California.

 

18. Some people are confused with the “black” carbon steel pans being silvery when they arrive and thinking the silver ones do not have the recall… can you clarify?

 

Colloquially “Black steel” and “Carbon Steel” are interchangeable terms. “Black” simply refers to both (1) the presence of iron in the steel and (2) that they look black AFTER being well-seasoned. There is no difference between “carbon steel” or “black carbon steel.” We only have one product: the black carbon steel fry pan.

 

19. What levels of contamination were found in the affected batches? Is there a baseline and how do the affected batches compare to normal/baseline levels?

 

Independent third-party tests performed by IANESCO (DGCCRF accredited laboratories) performed on both seasoned and unseasoned pans, found that our black carbon steel pans have met the very rigorous standards of the DGCCRF and the EU.

 

20. What procedures/changes are you making to ensure this doesn’t happen in the future?

 

We stand by our product. All Matfer Bourgeat black carbon steel cookware continues to fully comply with the stringent food standards set forth by the DGCCRF and the EU.

 

We will continue to appeal the use of the inappropriate methodology employed by DDPP of Isère .

 

That being said, we know that our customers come to Matfer Bourgeat simply for the enduring quality of our products…not to have to sift through complex French regulatory systems. To reflect our commitment to that quality and to add as much consumer confidence as possible, we are actively pursuing domestic food safety certifications and seeking independent third-party testing conducted by an FDA-approved, US-based laboratory. We’re happy to go above and beyond to give our customers what they need to keep enjoying their pans for a lifetime.

 

21. How can you tell if you have a pan from the affected group? Can you update the situation with Amazon?  

 

All Matfer Bourgeat black carbon steel cookware for sale continues to fully comply with the stringent food standards set forth by the DGCCRF and the EU and may be used safely and there is no distinction between pans in the “affected group” and all others sold.

 

22. How often are Matfer pans tested? Is this the first recall? First time pans fail the tests?"

 

Pursuant to DGCCRF and EU requirements, our pans are tested every time our manufacturing changes or the regulations change. When we made changes to our model, beginning in 2021, we went through a thorough round of testing per national DGCCRF standards.

 

The random testing performed by DDPP of Isère is the first time this particular test was performed on our (and to our knowledge, any) black carbon steel cookware. Since we are the only manufacturer of black carbon steel cookware in this Department, we are the only manufacturer whose products have been tested in this manner.

 

We look forward to answering any further questions you may have and hope to continue our long-standing relationship. We stand behind the quality of our products and appreciate your trust during this process.

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