Tuesday, February 26, 2013


Because of the health dangers of BPA in plastic and of substitute chemicals used in BPA free plastics, I -like many other moms- have turned to melamine as a safer alternative when buying plates and cups for my toddler.  I have even have given them away as birthday favors!

I try to use ceramic and glass when he is sitting at the table but when he was younger and enjoyed throwing his plate on the floor from his high chair, it was a bit risky.  Even now, I prefer to give him  melamine cup than a glass one or a plastic one to have around the house.

A new study from Taiwan, however, has me thinking twice before using my son’s pirate melamine tableware.   

 In the new study, two groups of healthy young adults were asked to eat hot noodle soup from bowls; one group used bowls made with melamine resin and the other group used ceramic bowls.   A couple of weeks later the 2 groups switched bowls. The study found that the group using  the melamine bowls had higher levels of the chemical in their urine, and remained high for up to 12 hours.

Being a small study, the researchers did not probe further and look at wether the higher urine levels would lead to any long-term medical problems or if participants' bodies were storing any of the chemical.  Undoubtedly, the study does raise questions about  what the consequences of long term melamine exposure might be.   


At very high dosis, melamine has been associated with kidney stones and renal failure in small animals and infants. Most melamine dinnerware contains small amounts of formaldehyde, a potent carcinogen.

Infants are particularly vulnerable to the chemical since they have very low kidneys functions to begin with.   as you might remember, in 2008, large doses of melamine were found is baby formula in China and resulted in  six baby deaths and over 50,000 thousands sick infants with kidney damage.  

The good news is that the amount of melamine that was found to leech from melamine plates in the Taiwanese study seems low and most probably will cause no ill effects on our children’s health.  the bad news? No studies have been made about the long term implications of being exposed to small amounts of melamine over a long period of time ... so if you are going to continue using melamine plates and cups, using them CORRECTLY is probably a safe bet.


Not necessarily... just make sure you are using it correctly. 

You can continue to use your melamine plates and cups, however avoid exposing it to high temperatures
  • do not microwave melamine tableware
  • do not wash in dishwashing machines at high temperatures
  • Opt to serve  cold foods in them (ie: cereal, sandwiches, etc).    When serving hot meals (like soup, pasta, fish or anything coming straight from the oven or stovetop) opt for a ceramic or glass bowl or plate.  If you dont trust your tot with a ceramic or glass bowl buy a silicon sleeve like the one that Boon sells to protect your bowl.
  • melamine may also leach out of tableware if the food or drink is especially acidic so try to avoid orange juice and such
  • Finally, if scratched or damaged, toss it out

Tuesday, February 19, 2013


One of my readers recently asked me what I thought about the new non-stick technology that is promising to replace Teflon in the cooking world. 

Teflon pans are usually one of the first things I suggest you get rid of at home.... But they are also one of the hardest things to get people to stop using! 

I know people who cook their (expensive) organic food in Teflon pans, not realizing that they are pretty much eating up a toxic meals thanks to the Teflon from their pans.

Why is it so hard to stop using nonstick Teflon pans? Well, the reality is that they work really well and the alternative (at first) is usually very messy and sticky! I get it.... and would probably let it slide and leave my friends or clients with their teflon pans, since my philosophy is to make small changes in your life and not to live in a nontoxic bubble, BUT here is the thing; teflon is really bad. So bad that the chemical company that makes it has been forced to "eliminate the need to make, buy or use PFOA by 2015." 

When talking about the dangers of Teflon, we are referring to the chemical that gives it its slippery non-stick property;  Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA).   PFOA is present in trace amounts in up to 98% of Americans.  It is not only used in Teflon coated non-stick pans but also in products that claim to be stain and grease proof like furniture, carpet, clothing and food packaging (like Stainmaster fabric protection).