Modern and vintage dinnerware all too often have been found to be contaminated with heavy metals like lead, arsenic, mercury, cadmium and others chemicals. If you have little ones at home, are pregnant or trying to conceive, having safe dinnerware is a must. Toxins, like those listed above are known to cause reproductive and developmental harm among other health issues and dangerous levels can build up in your system overtime. It is especially important for children and babies to avoid these toxins as they are most susceptible to harm.
Glass is one of my favorites in the kitchen – it is microwave and dishwasher safe, plus it won’t warp, stain, retain odors, or leach chemicals into your food or beverages. Check out other verified safe brands that we use in our home AND continue scrolling to learn what you should avoid!
*All of the dinnerware items listed below are dishwasher and microwave safe.
Dinnerware, Drinkware, Storage, Serving & More
NEW white Corelle is my favorite choice for dinnerware – we’ve accumulated quite the collection! Made in the USA, Corelle plates and bowls are made of three layers of a type of tempered glass called Vitrelle®. This dinnerware is durable, lightweight and most importantly free of toxic chemicals! Now, you might be wondering… ‘Are Corelle plates with those cute designs safe?’ According to Corelle’s website, “Decorations, if present, are made from low-lead enamels and fired at temperatures exceeding 1000 degrees F, which binds any heavy metals both physically and chemically so that their release is minimized.” Personally, I’ve found Corelle to be extremely transparent and while my family (including my little one) only uses plain white Corelle, I do have a few new plates with a decorative pattern along the rim that we use on occasion. *Important to Note*: Older / vintage Corelle has been found to contain toxic chemicals including high amounts of lead, just like many vintage dinner options. Corelle advises consumers to discontinue the use of older dinnerware. Additionally, according to the LeadSafeMama website, some newer Corelle patterns have been found to have cadmium concerns in the decorative pattern and their mugs – made from stoneware in China – are not always lead-free).
Dinnerware, Drinkware, Storage, & Bowls
Anchor Hocking offers glass dinnerware and storage containers at an affordable price – plus, all Anchor Hocking products are made in the USA! We currently own a few bakeware items from AH plus these plates too!
Ball Mason Jars
Ball Mason Jars are one of my must-haves! These durable, inexpensive jars are so versatile and come in a wide variety of sizes! We use them for baby food, salads and smoothies AND I loveee using these 32 ounce jars every single day to help keep myself hydrated! Tip: My Target had a pack of 12 for for just $12!!
Glass Pyrex containers are perfect for cooking, storing, and baking! We use our Pyrex literally every single day for anything and everything and really love our rectangular set – they easily fit into the fridge for organized storage! Lids are available in glass, silicone, and BPA-free plastic. *Important to Note*: Just as older Corelle is a ‘no-go’, the same goes for older Pyrex including the popular colored vintage bowls which have tested extremely high for lead and should absolutely NOT be used.
Glass Drinkware & Plates
Just have to get this out there… These glass mugs are my all time favorite!! Libbey makes lead-free glasses that are durable and come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Plain, clear, unpainted glass is your best option, especially considering stoneware, especially mugs, often contain heavy metals. Check out these cute pineapple glasses!
Plates, Bowls, Glasses, & More
Duralex glasses and plates are durable, free of heavy metals, and made in France! Duralex offers a wide range of kitchen staples including glass mixing bowls, plates, cups, wine glasses and more!
Stainless Steel Utensils
Simply put… 100% stainless steel forks, knives, and cutlery is your safest bet AND should be free of heavy metals, especially if you buy from a reputable brand. Be sure even the handles are 100% stainless and not made from a resin or plastic.
Liberty Flatware, is made from 100% stainless steel right here in the USA, and after owning the toddler utensil set (see below!), I would definitely purchase a full set from Liberty Flatware whenever I am in the market for a new set of utensils.
Currently, we use 100% stainless steel forks, knives and spoons from Cambridge that have tested free of all heavy metals (as expected with anything 100% stainless steel).
As for baby and toddler utensils, I absolutely LOVE this set by Liberty Flatware. Made from 100% stainless steel made in the USA, this set is adorable, sturdy, and safe for your little one – my daughter still loves it! Another 100% stainless steel brand made in the USA is Kleyanimals. While we don’t have the flatware set, we do have the Kleyanimals key set (truly heirloom quality).
What to Avoid At the Dinner Table
Dinnerware is most often affected by acidic food and heat which can cause paints, glazes and other materials to break down with regular use causing them to leach into your food. If you use dinnerware containing toxic chemicals or heavy metals, chances are you’re ingesting them, so it is best to avoid the following whenever possible.
Oh, leaded crystal… Yes, I registered for leaded crystal wine glasses. Yes, I drank from them. Yes, I have/had other leaded crystal items including a vase, bells, creamer, and several others. But, since finding out that my Mikasa Wine Glasses contain 401,000 ppm of lead (or are composed of 40% lead), I no longer use these glasses and store them in an enclosed glass cabinet. Also, this should go without saying, but I never let my daughter touch or drink from crystal. Please read this article explaining how this crystal glass is likely the source of a child’s mysterious blood poisoning, from the Lead Safe Mama, LLC website.
Vintage Plates, Bowls, Mugs, & Cups
It wasn’t until the 1970’s when the FDA began to testing dinnerware for safety (gasp!). Therefore, vintage paint and dinnerware are often contaminated with lead, cadmium, arsenic and other toxins. As time goes on, the paint may chip and the finishes wear off, leaving the consumer exposed to ‘what lurks beneath’! Additionally, overtime these materials can breakdown causing dust and heavy metal contamination within your home. In general, I avoid pretty much everything vintage.
Paints & Glazes
Glass, Ceramics, Porcelain, & China
Be wary. Not all painted or glazed dinnerware contains heavy metals, but unfortunately MANY do. Lead and cadmium are the main culprits found in these types of paints and glazes, therefore it is best to avoid this type of material unless you are 100% certain. For example, my ceramic plates tested lead-free and my porcelain plates that had low levels of lead on food surface side of the plate, yet higher levels on the logo. Check out the results here.
Recycled glass often contains lead, antimony and other chemicals that do not belong on your dinner table! These heavy metals can leach into your food and drinks – especially when scratched, stored for long periods of time, or used with acidic foods and beverages. Check out the XRF results of my mom’s recycled glass cup here.
Non-Stick / Teflon
Non-stick cookware is coated with toxic chemicals known to cause cancer, birth defects and many other health issues. This type of cookware uses any combination of the following substances: polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), perfluorobutane sulfonate (PFBS), “GenX” chemicals or most commonly used in non-stick cookware, polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE). I always use stainless steel, glass or cast iron when cooking. If you want to learn more, check out the documentary, “The Devil We Know”.
Different types of plastic contain different chemicals such as BPA, BPS, phthalates, and many more hormone disrupting chemicals which can easily leach into your food. Plus, plastic is bad for our environment just as non-stick products are! If you do choose to use plastic, choose plastic with a recycling code of #2 (High-Density Polyethylene) or #5 (polypropylene) which are less likely to leach. Also, never microwave plastic and avoid the dishwasher too! In general, plastic is something I try to avoid, but especially when it comes to food use. At home, we do not have any plastic kitchenware, with the exception of Pyrex lids!
Aluminum is highly reactive when mixed with acidic foods such as tomatoes, making it a poor choice for the kitchen. While a small amount of aluminum may not cause health concerns immediately, you still don’t want aluminum leaching into your food. Aluminum has been linked to Alzheimer’s and Dementia too!
And In Conclusion …
It’s extremely difficult to decipher which dinnerware contains heavy metals and which do not unless you have your dishes tested with an XRF device or contact the manufacturer requesting a certificate of analysis (COA). In general, new white Corelle, new Pyrex, Duralex, Libbey, and 100% stainless steel options are your best bet for the purest dinnerware possible!
P.S. Don’t forget to check out my post on vintage dinnerware your should DEFINITELY avoid!
Note – Putting things into perspective: To new items manufactured for children containing 90 ppm of lead or higher in the finish, paint or coating, is illegal. Substrates, in items intended for children, containing 100 ppm of lead or higher are considered unsafe and illegal. YET, at this time, there are no regulatory standards setting lead paint limits on consumer goods intended for use by adults. Some items I’ve had personally tested, that were NOT vintage, tested well anywhere from 300ppm of lead to 400,000 ppm!
RESOURCES TO LEARN MORE:
- Drinking glasses can contain potentially harmful levels of lead and cadmium, Study by Dr. Andrew Turner, University of Plymouth
- Lead in Dishes and Other Heavy Metal Testing, Tamara Rubin, Lead Safe Mama, LLC and Lead Prevention Activist
- Public Health Impact of Plastic , NCBI Article
- Dangerous Dinnerware – An interesting Washington Post article from 1986!
- Lead in ceramic crockery and pottery-making, AUS.gov Article
- “Lead Testing My Stuff with Tamara Rubin, Lead Safe Mama” (check out my post to see what Tamara tested at my home)
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