Melamine dishes have boomed in popularity. Do you know why? Many restaurant kitchens have replaced their heavy, fragile porcelain dinnerware with melamine dinnerware sets for a number of reasons. Yet, there are some groups who insist that eating from melamine dishes is actually a health risk. To understand why some salad plates can cause so much discord, read below.
Plastics Make the World Go Round: How Melamine Is Made.
Melamine products were first made way back in 1834 by combining melamine resins with strengthening materials to form an organic industrial compound; nitrogen makes up 67% of its mass. The result is a heavy duty plastic that does not break easily. This quality makes it attractive to fast-moving kitchens and parents of angry toddlers alike.
The product is also lightweight, which may not seem too important if you think about lifting just one salad plate while clearing a table. But consider lifting a whole serving tray of salad plates, and that slight weight becomes significantly heavier. The cumulative effect makes a difference.
The tableware industry is expected to grow to about $41 billion by the year 2020. That’s a whole lot of salad plates. Yet tableware actually includes four categories, to be exact: flatware, drinking items, serving items, and of course dinnerware.
When people mention possible dangers associated with using melamine dishes, they are usually referring to a study by the Taiwan Consumers’s Foundation, the results of which can be found on the Food and Drug Administration’s website. This study focused on melamine dishes from 19 different Chinese companies, and they found that under exaggerated conditions, there was a transfer of some melamine resin from the cup or plate into the food.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has rigorously tested the effects melamine poison might have upon the body. While the compound could cause some health problems over time, it extremely unlikely to be absorbed from eating and drinking off melamine dishes. This is because the study used conditions that the average user would not subject their tableware to, such as heating an acidic liquid to a temperature over 160 degrees Fahrenheit and allowing it to sit for a few hours, after which they finally drink it.
The health concern over using melamine dinnerware is ill-founded. But if you are slightly worried still, there is an easy solution: use your melamine dishes solely for summer dining! This will prevent you or another family member from accidentally heating a cup or salad plate too high in the microwave.
The transfer of the melamine compound only occurred when the dishes were heated to a high temperature, and it only happened with highly acidic foods and drinks. A practical solution is to designate any of your melamine dishes as “summer dishes,” meaning they are meant for those meals that are served at a lower temperature, such as fresh fruit, salads, cold pastas, etcetera.
There are so many reasons to worry in life. What dishes you will serve meals on shouldn’t be one of them. This summer, consider picking up a new set of brightly colored dishes for those summer meals you plan to make. If you drop one, no worries; they don’t break easily.