Your Health

Lead in Your Dishware?

Here's a simple swap on how to pick swoon-worthy plates without the toxins

If you’re kitchen obsessed like me, you’ve probably poured over every IKEA, Pottery Barn, William Sonoma and Magnolia Home magazine scouring for the prettiest dishware to serve breakfast, lunch and dinner. Whether you’re a food styling pro, or wouldn’t mind eating off any type of plate, here’s what you might not know. Depending on the style and manufacturer of dishware, there might be lead and cadmium hiding in the paint.

Lead and cadmium are primarily used in colored glazes to stabilize them (1). Lead and cadmium are toxic metals that cause negative health effects in children and adults. There’s no safe limit for lead exposure and it can affect cognitive and behavioral development in children. Lead exposure isn’t great for adults either! Lead exposure can cause weakness in the fingers, wrists, or ankles and chronic low dose lead exposure causes an increase in blood pressure (2). Chronic cadmium exposure (like eating off the same plates for years) can lead to kidney, bone and lung diseases (3). Here’s what you should know!

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has strict regulations on the usage of lead and cadmium in paint glazes that are used in items that might come in contact with food. In order for dishware to be sold in America, the lead and cadmium levels in the dishes must be below a set standard. However, this does not mean that all products imported are always tested (a.k.a. for products not tested, we don’t actually know if they’re meeting FDA levels and they get sold on shelves anyway!) If you’re buying dishware while on vacation abroad, you should also be aware that most countries do not have regulations as strict as the U.S. when it comes to lead and cadmium levels in dishware. In fact, the FDA has put together a list of manufacturers by country that produce dishware of concern.

Luckily, there’s a pretty easy fix! The next time you’re at the store browsing for new dishware, here’s what you should do:

  • When purchasing dishware, find a set that is glazed in white or unglazed. Hey, minimalism is all the rage and that white background will make some Insta-worthy photos for sure!
  • If you’re dying to have a little color on your plates, try and only purchase dishware made or sold in the US from a reputable brand. Again, these manufacturers must follow more stringent standards on paint glazes.
  • If you’re interested in purchasing colored dishware when abroad, plan on buying decorative pieces, instead of ones that you may use as dishware. They may look beautiful, but most likely contain lead and cadmium in the glaze since there is less regulation in what can be used in glazes for dishware, so you definitely don’t want them touching your food!
  • If you’ve got some colored dishes right now, here are some great tips that will allow you to keep using those dishes, but keep the lead intake to a minimum!

This simple swap might not change how awesome your dinners look, but it will definitely make a difference in you and your family’s health!