Wednesday, September 30, 2009

If it's made in China, is it safe?

I have started shopping for new cookware and hope to replace all my non-stick pots and pans with good, old-fashioned metal, prompted by reports that some plastic coatings may break down under high heat and contaminate food.

I long ago stopped re-heating food in plastic containers for the same reason. But a dinnerware set I bought in 2007 left a really bad taste in my mouth, raising the suspicion that a lot of products made in China may not be safe. And so much of the cookware I have looked at is made in China.

In 2007, I bought the elaborately painted Villa della Luna pattern from Pfaltzgraff, enough plates, bowls and cups for 12. When I re-heated leftovers -- and we cook at home five days a week and eat a lot of leftovers -- I would plate the food before putting it in the microwave. After about a year, I started to notice that the paint on the dinner plates I used to reheat food was fading in the dishwasher.

I called Pfaltzgraff, only to be told that the dinner plates and other items in my set had been recalled, because tests revealed high levels of lead and cadmium. I had never received a notice of the recall, but, luckily, I still had the original boxes, now filled with my old dinnerware. I packed up the new pattern and returned it, then had to fight with Pfaltzgraff to get a refund.

I used the old plates until I finally found dinnerware that wasn't made in China -- porcelain in a simple white-on-white pattern made in Germany by Rosenthal. I feel much safer re-heating food in the microwave. And I'm searching for pots and pans made anywhere but in China.


  1. If you are concerned about your health, why oh why are you using a microwave?


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