Tuesday, February 26, 2013

IS MELAMINE SAFE FOR MY MUNCHKINS?



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.   


IS MELAMINE HAZARDOUS TO MY MUNCHKINS HEALTH?

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.


SHOULD I THROW OUT MY MELAMINE TABLEWARE?

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

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