You may remember the controversy about several years ago over melamine-tainted baby formula in China. Several well-known baby food manufacturers sold melamine-tainted baby formula in an effort to make the milk appear to have a higher protein content than it actually did. The infants who consumed it developed kidney complications including kidney stones. Six infants died, thousands were hospitalized and hundreds of thousands more were affected.

Melamine is banned for use in food products, which is a good thing because it combines with cyanuric acid, which can be found in drinking water and in animal feed, inside the body and causes renal and urinary concerns in adults as well as infants. But melamine is still routinely used to make dishware by combining it with formaldehyde to make a melamine resin: a plastic that is fire resistant and heat tolerant. This makes it a popular choice for durable but inexpensive dishes, especially for those concerned about breakage such as parents of young children.

We already know about the dangers of BPA in plastic, which makes microwaving plastic containers or eating hot foods, such as soup from a supermarket soup bar in a plastic container, an unhealthy choice. Melamine dishes are more solid and denser than typical plastic, however, so up until now, melamine has been considered safe for microwaving and serving hot foods on. But a new study suggests it may be time to toss those plastic dishes once and for all.

Published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, a team of researchers in Taiwan examined the exposure to melamine that occurred after eating hot soup out of a melamine bowl.

They collected urine samples from participants before the meal and then again 6 times within the 12 hours following the meal. One group ate their soup form melamine bowls and the other used ceramic bowls. Researchers found that the participants who ate from the melamine bowl excreted 8.35 micrograms of melamine while the ceramic bowl group only excreted 1.35 micrograms. There is no safe level of melamine exposure but it’s unlikely to cause harm in a single incident. The concern the study presents is around the long-term exposure from repeated consumption of hot foods off melamine-leaching dishware.

It’s important to note that this study looked at eating hot soup out of a room temperature bowl and examined how much melamine was leaching into the food due to the heat from the food itself. It did not consider the additional exposure that might occur if the plate or bowl was heated in an oven or microwave first as may occur.

In addition to possibly causing kidney stones, melamine exposure can impact renal and kidney function so if you are eating out of melamine dishes, it may be time to invest in some new ceramic dishes, even if it means you might break a few along the way. They also make for a prettier table, and you’re more likely to less and to eat healthier if you create a relaxed, serene and peaceful meal environment. So set a beautiful table, sit down together with your family and really enjoy your meal. Savor the food, the company and the conversation, use real dishes and save the plastic for your picnic!

To your wellness and health: your true wealth!


Author: Inger Pols is the Editor of the New England Health Advisory and Author/Creator, Finally Make It Happen, the proven process to get what you want. Get a free special report on The Truth About Sugar: It’s Not All Equal at

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