Are Items With Melamine Safe?

If we talk about elements with melamine, we quickly associate them with two objects that we surely have at home. On the one hand, a type of light tableware with good colors and very resistant comes to mind; on the other, the furniture that is made with this material.

However, over time the question has been raised as to whether the elements with melamine are safe or not. It is an organic compound that has high levels of nitrogen, about 67%, which gives it good resistance to fire and high temperatures.

Melamine resin or melamine formaldehyde is a synthetic resin that is obtained by combining it with a reactive gas called formaldehyde . In this way, a complex polymer of great hardness and excellent resistance is obtained. Is it a health hazard? What are its contraindications.

How is melamine used in industry?

The use of melamine elements has become very widespread because it is a very inexpensive material that, as a consequence, considerably reduces the final value of the piece. In addition, it resists abrasion, solvents, some acids and grease.

Today it is used to manufacture furniture, utensils, tableware, countertops, blackboards, adhesives, lacquers, paper products and plastic objects. For example, in the case of furniture, wood chipboards are used, which are covered with a melamine resin plate. In this way, they are given an attractive finish that can mimic other substances.

In the case of tableware, its use has spread from the home to restaurants and catering services . It is not only about plates, but also about bowls, platters, tasting spoons and glasses, among others.

Melamine in the industry.

Can melamine furniture be dangerous?

No. Furniture made of this material does not pose any type of health hazard. Two types of materials are used on which the melamine will later be applied: chipboard and fiber boards. The former is a bit cheaper and less resistant, while the latter are the classic MDF plates that offer durability.

In any case, both are coated. Even the edges of these plates are covered with PVC edges equal to the design of the melamine used so that moisture and other factors do not reach the wood and damage it.

Advantages of the finish on melamine elements

Compared to wood, melamine furniture offers some advantages, in addition to its lower cost:

  • The design and planning of cuts is easier, thanks to the different programs and machines designed for this purpose.
  • Being a material free of porosity, it does not absorb moisture or stains.
  • It is very resistant and goes well with cleaning products. Especially in kitchens, when greasiness can be a headache.
  • You can work with different techniques and tools: milling machines, saws, drills.
  • Being a synthetic material, it prevents the proliferation of microorganisms.

Can melamine tableware be dangerous?

The quick answer is no. According to the Food and Drug Administration of the United States (FDA) the correct use of melamine tableware is not dangerous for health.

In fact, in that country the use of melamine elements is approved for tableware, laminates and some plastics. The authorities established that the tolerable daily dose is 0.063 milliliters per kilogram of body weight.

Actually, the advantages of melamine tableware are many, both at home and in restaurants:

  • It is cheaper than traditional porcelain, glass or ceramic dinnerware. Lasts much longer without damage or deterioration. If it falls to the floor it will not break.
  • It is much lighter;  a quality very welcomed by waiters and waitresses of the catering services .
  • It is safer when washed by hand because, as it does not break, it will not cause injuries.
  • The designs are attractive and varied.
  • They are products that resist temperatures ranging from -30 ºC to 70 ºC.
  • They take up less storage space than conventional crockery.

Possible drawbacks

The fear of consuming food served on melamine tableware is due to the fact that there could be some kind of damage if traces of the material were mixed with the food. The FDA cautions against the use of this dishware in the microwave. This is because high temperatures could lead to a spill on food. In such a case, there would be contamination and possible poisoning.

In this sense, a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine showed that melamine can leach into food. The participants of this investigation drank soup served in plates of the material and, when analyzing their urine for 12 hours, they detected remains.

High levels of melamine can lead to kidney problems, such as kidney failure and stones. Symptoms of melamine poisoning include blood in the urine, high blood pressure, and irritability.

Melamine tableware.

Are items with melamine safe?

We will not deny the practicality and versatility of this material in daily life. Whether in furniture or dishes, the reality is that there are more advantages than disadvantages.

However, it is important to take into account the precautions in its use before incorporating the elements with melamine in our home. Mainly, in the case of tableware, which has been shown to have some contraindications.

As long as we don’t put it in the microwave, we can enjoy its benefits. Otherwise, if we think that we cannot do without the appliance to heat meals, the ideal is that we resort to ceramic, porcelain or glass tableware.

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