When the appearance of dinnerware is the primary concern, china and melamine have a similar appeal. Both have beautiful patterns for matched plates, soup or salad bowls and side dishes that attractively decorate a table.
The price difference, however, is significant. At the same time, melamine dinnerware has received its share of criticism for potential health risks. In various studies, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the United States and World Health Organizations (WHO) have addressed issues related to its use.
Is it all doom story for melamine ware? If that is the case, why is popularity of melamine still showing upward instead of downward trend? Read on and it should shed some light into the question.
Comparing Qualities of China to Melamine
The chemical composition of melamine dinnerware makes it nearly impossible to break, while china dinnerware breaks easily when it lands on a hard surface. An element in the composition of melamine makes it potentially unsafe for use in a microwave oven or for any aspect of cooking that subjects it to high temperatures.
Even if it does not melt, its surface can degrade under high heat and release small amounts of a harmful chemical. Similarly, even the best melamine dining ware does not tolerate cycles in dishwashers that heat water to more than 140 degrees F. Neither china nor melamine is biodegradable, and pieces that end up in a landfill remain there for an indeterminable period.
Even the best china dinnerware seems to have none of the disadvantages that are characteristic of melamine. While it is breakable when it is dropped, it typically has high resistance to chipping or cracking and provides many years of daily use.
Considerably more expensive than melamine, china does not leak chemicals when exposed to high heat in microwave or traditional ovens, broilers or plate warmers. No health hazards occur from serving piping hot food on china, while it is important to let food cool prior to placing it on melamine.
Evaluating the Value
An investment in china is more expensive than one in melamine, but the difference in performance level is worth evaluating.
Melamine is more environmentally friendly than disposable paper, and it is likely safer than other plastic products. Its durability makes replacement of broken pieces unnecessary, but concerns about the chemical composition of melamine resins may override cost considerations. As an inexpensive container for cold food or snacks, melamine may serve a utilitarian purpose. For cooking or serving hot food and for effective cleaning, china has qualities that make it a superior product.
If you have no idea which to go for, ask yourself a simple question. How do you plan to use your brand new dinnerware set? Or rather, how have you been using your existing dinnerware set?
Do you put your dishes in the oven often? Do you have young children in the house where your china ware will pose high risk? Understand your unique personal set up. Only then, you’ll be able to make a wise decision on whether to gow with melamine or stay away from it.
Photo courtesy of pidoubleg