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Melamine Tableware - Weighing in on the Health Risks

Is Melamine Dinnerware Safe to Use?

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Melamine dishes were very popular during the 1950's and 1960's, but they've recently made a comeback, sporting vibrant colors and patterns while retaining its signature lightweight design. Melamine has been a popular family tableware choice because of its unbreakable nature, which also makes it ideal for RV's or outdoor entertaining.

However, concern has grown recently about whether the presence of melamine in plastic dinnerware, could pose a safety risk to our food. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), a substance called melamine-formaldehyde resin is used in the manufacture of melamine dishes.

According to the FDA, safety tests were conducted by the The Taiwan Consumers' Foundation of tableware made in China, and results showed that during the manufacturing process, a small residue of the melamine compound could remain in the dish and under certain conditions, could migrate slowly to foods that come into contact with it. The FDA has conducted its own safety and risk assessment and concluded that the tableware does not pose a health risk, but they do recommend care when using it. For more detail, read the FDA article to have a better understanding of their findings.

Is Melamine Worth the Risk?

The FDA has concluded from its own assessment that the safety risk is very low and within acceptable levels, but they do caution the use of melamine dishes. There appears to be more risk when it comes to infants and children. In this light, my own recommendation would be NOT to use melamine tableware when feeding children.

As for the nice patterned melamine tableware and trays on the market today, since risk is very low, whether to buy and use them is up to you. But if you do, follow these recommended use tips:
  • Do not use for infants or children
  • Never heat food or drinks in melamine
  • Never use melamine in the microwave, unless it is clearly marked 'microwave safe'.
  • Acidic foods increase the risk, especially when heated.
  • There should be no health risk using melamine dinnerware to serve drinks and foods that have been heated on something else.
  • Trays to carry serving items and cold snacks should pose no threat.
Though melamine tableware has been deemed safe to use with caution, if in doubt or if you are losing any sleep over this product, it's not worth the risk. There are lots of other tableware choices on the market. Compare prices of tableware and find suitable alternatives.

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