The Best, Safest, Non-Toxic, Lead-Free Dinnerware (2022): Ultimate Guide

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I never thought about dinnerware being toxic until I became aware of the fact that lead was used in glazes on most dinnerware made before 1992, when the FDA instituted its current lead guidelines for food-safe ceramics. I freaked out because I was using pretty vintage Italian bowls, which at this point I don’t even want to know how much lead I was exposed to. On my search for safe, non-toxic, lead-free tableware, I was also shocked at how little transparency there is from popular brands as to how their products are made.

If you want to leave a healthier, less toxic lifestyle, one of the biggest changes you can make is changing the plates you eat off of every day.

The biggest concern for toxins in dinnerware is the amount of lead and cadmium. Lead is often used in ceramic glazes, and cadmium is often found in bright colors, particularly red. But other materials, such as plastic and melamine also pose a problem.

You’re likely using your plates and bowls to eat from everyday, and these toxins can have a cumulative effect. Lead poisoning isn’t just a concern for growing kids, either. A study from the Lancet suggest that 256,000 premature deaths from cardiovascular disease in the United States may be linked to historical lead exposure (Source). Those at risk may not even have any lead poisoning symptoms. Additionally, according to the CDC even low levels of lead can cause depression, constipation, high blood pressure, reduced fertility, kidney disease, and a host of other issues (Source).

I hope those facts don’t leave too much of a pit in your stomach, because luckily there are some great lead-free, non-toxic, safe and importantly attractive, options. Check out the full list below.

What to Avoid

Vintage

Sadly, vintage dish ware usually contain very high levels of lead. The FDA first set regulations for the amount of lead in ceramics in 1971, so anything made before that is likely to have lead.

Melamine

Melamine is usually what those very hard plastic “outdoor” dishes are made from. It is a chemical that is used in plastic, known as melamine-formaldehyde resin, and even fertilizer. Melamine was known to be toxic to the kidneys in large doses, but new research is showing that even small amounts of melamine exposure can be hormonally disruptive and impact brain development and reproductive function (Source). This leaching is increased when exposed to high heat and acid, for extended periods, according to tested cited by the FDA. Melamine is probably okay for occasional use, but it’s best to steer clear from it for everyday use.

Plastic

Though convenient, the negative effects of plastic are well known by now. It’s not just BPA, either. Most plastic products release chemicals that estrogenic and endocrine disruptive (Source). Of course, these chemicals are released at an even higher rate after exposure to heat or acidic foods. At this point, it’s best to just stay away from the plastic all together.

✗ Bright Red/Orange Colored Ceramic

These colors are known to have high levels of cadmium. In fact, red glaze cannot really be made without cadmium. It’s best to just avoid these colors for dinnerware in general. If you can’t get red and orange plates out of your mind, there are some brands, like one listed below, that use “encapsulated cadmium” that makes it so the cadmium is impossible to leach. But don’t assume every brand is using that.

✗ Cracked, Worn Ceramic

These cracks can allow even more lead, cadmium, arsenic, and other heavy metals to leach. Be aware that some superficial silverware lines and marks which happen to a lot of newer ceramics with lighter glazes is different than actual cracks and is perfectly safe.

The Safest, Non-Toxic, Lead-Free Choices

Fiesta

Fiesta is made in the USA and is the perfect option for you if you love bold, bright colors! I have a few pieces and I like how strong and bright they are. I will say though that the ivory color seems to develop some superficial lines that the other colors do not develop. They have a really full collection of dinnerware and they even sell matching bakeware and accessories like salt and pepper shakers.

Fiesta’s statement on lead can be found on their website.

  • Made in USA
  • Fully vitrified ceramics – like glass, non-porous
  • Microwave Safe
  • Dishwasher Safe
  • Chip-Resistant (with 5 year warranty)
  • Oven Proof
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06/10/2022 12:08 am GMT

HF Coors

HF Coors has classic white dinnerware, but they also sell nice decorative pieces too. They have a ton of styles and make other tableware as well as mugs.

See HF Coor’s full statement on lead and cadmium on their website.

  • Made in the USA
  • Vitrified ceramic- will not absorb moisture or odors
  • Broiler & Oven Safe
  • Microwave Safe
  • Dishwasher Safe
  • Freezer Safe
  • Highly resistant to staining, cracking, and crazing
  • Two year guarantee against chipping under normal use
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06/10/2022 05:54 pm GMT

Corelle

Corelle White Frost collection is a classic safe choice. The plates and bowls are thin and sleek, so they stack very easily and don’t take up much space. Corelle tableware is made from Vitrelle glass. Vitrelle glass is a sturdy three-layer glass laminate, originally intended for use in TV screens in the 1940s. Glass is considered a very safe, non-reactive naterial, and this USA made class is a great choice. Be careful for Corelle dishes with painted designs, as unfortunately the lead content of those paints is not usually known.

See Corelle’s statement on lead here.

  • Lead and Cadmium Free
  • Light Weight
  • “No Chip, No Crack Guarantee”
  • Great for families with kids
  • Inexpensive
  • Made in the US
  • Easy to Clean
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06/10/2022 09:08 pm GMT

Anchor Hocking Glass

Anchor Hocking has been making quality glass products since 1905. These simple USA made glass dishes are great for salads and stack well. The brand also sells glass measuring cups and bakeware.

Find more about Anchor Hocking Glass being lead-free here.

  • Made in the USA
  • Not for use under a flame or other direct heat source
  • Durable soda lime glass

Libbey Glass

Libbey has made quality glass products since 1818. These square plates have an interesting modern look. They also have round glass plates.

See Libbey’s statement on lead on their website.

  • Full glass dinnerware set can serve as complete collection or perfectly complement your current collection
  • Stackable so saves cupboard space
  • Glassware is made 100% BPA-free and lead-free
  • Durable
  • Dishwasher safe
  • Not safe for microwave
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06/10/2022 07:29 pm GMT

Duralex Glass

Duralex is famous for making some of the nicest tumblers and glasses on the market. But this French company also makes nice, simple glass dinnerware.

Read about Duralex’s safety here.

  • Made in France
  • Dishwasher Safe
  • Microwave and Freezer Safe – can go directly from freezer to microwave
  • Constant quality control
  • Stackable with low profile
  • Hygienic, non-pourus
  • Impact and chip resistant- Duralex tempered glass is 2.5 times stronger than ordinary glass, and shatters into small pieces, reducing risk of injury
  • Shock Resistant- can go from -4°F to 266°F
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06/10/2022 06:40 pm GMT

East Fork

East Fork designs and manufactures very on trend tableware in Asheville, North Carolina. Most of their glazes are matte, and they rotate glaze colors seasonally. East Fork’s plates and bowls are very thick and substantial. The glazes have a slight texture to them.

See East Fork’s statement about being lead-free here.

  •  Climate Neutral Certified
  • Made in the USA by skilled artisans
  • Attractive, on trend ceramic glazes
  • Dishwasher Safe
  • Microwave Safe
  • Very durable for ceramic
  • Thick and sturdy

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