Quick Answer: You should not microwave melamine dishware. According to the FDA, melamine is not approved for microwave heating, as you'll discover.
First, let's find out what melamine is...
What Is Melamine?
If you've never heard of melamine before, you're not alone. It's a material you can find in many plastic-based dishes, but it's not necessarily something that you'd take notice of.
Melamine is a chemical that, when combined with formaldehyde, becomes a durable resin that can be used in Formica laminates, dry erase boards and even plates.
It is, in face, very commonly used in dinnerware, and it's perfectly safe for serving food and beverages. Trouble only occurs if you try to microwave a melamine dish.
The FDA reports that with appropriate use, melamine does not transfer chemicals into your food. But when heated to 160 degrees Fahrenheit, a melamine dish will start leeching significant levels of toxins.
This is why the FDA warns that melamine dishes should not be put in the microwave. As long as you follow the guidelines for proper usage (no active heating, just eating off of melamine plates), you'll be safe.
Want to know more about microwave cooking? Check out 5 Best Microwave Toaster Oven Combo Options to Buy.
Different Types of Melamine Dinnerware
Melamine dinnerware comes in an extensive variety of dishes and utensils. Let's go over a few of them:
- Salad plates
- Dinner plates
- Soup bowls
- Cereal bowls
- Serving platters
- Coffee mugs
- Tea cups
- Forks, knives and spoons
As you can see, melamine cups, plates and utensils are able to come in contact with cold or hot foods. It's not the temperature of your hot soup that's an issue with melamine, it's the stress the melamine would undergo heating up in the microwave.
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Melamine dinnerware is known to be highly durable. If you find that you go through a lot of broken dishes, this can be particularly beneficial. Melamine dishes are also generally quite affordable options.
To reiterate: If you simply eat off of your melamine dishes and don't heat them up in the microwave, you won't risk toxin leakage that could harm your health.
How Do You Know If Plastic Dinnerware Is Microwave Safe or Not?
Labels on Plastic to Be Aware Of
The label you want to look for on microwavable dinnerware is "microwave safe." It's also possible that you could find a label that refers to the opposite, that the item is not microwave-safe.
These labels should be highly visible and easy to find on or near the bottom of the product. If you don't find one, you can contact the manufacturer to confirm.