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Dishes Can Make You Sick - Examine Your Tableware for Chips and Cracks

Examine your tableware for chips and cracks

By Lisa Nardella McCoskey


I truly love to entertain, and I thoroughly enjoy planning for our family and friends to join us for special or everyday visits. On those occasions, I like to have a place setting for everyone. I recently purged my dinnerware, a decision that I did not take lightly, but I started having this little nudging, kind of like a memory poking at my brain. It was my mom’s voice telling me she was going to replace her dishes because they were chipped.

Hmm . . . my plates are chipped. Then I started really examining the dishes and mugs. Not only were there chips in many of them, they looked sort of crackled on the surface too. Okay, okay, this got my attention. Then I started digging and realized that cracks, crevices, and crazing in dishes create bacterial breeding grounds for pathogens that can contaminate food that you’re eating. It’s the kind of illness that causes gastrointestinal problems like cramping, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting.

More digging . . . .You know that smooth finish on those ceramic plates, coffee cups, and bakeware? It makes them shiny and pretty, but it also protects you from ingesting lead that may be present. Lead is used by most manufacturers to make the products durable. Once that surface is compromised by a chip or scratch, the potential of lead leaching becomes greater. While it’s not likely that you’ll consume dangerous amounts from your dishware, it’s something to be aware of because it’s linked to major health problems like high blood pressure, chronic pain, GI complications, and neurological issues; and lead poisoning is definitely a high-risk factor for children.

Keep in mind, there is no safe level of lead in your body. We are exposed to it on a daily basis through car exhaust, the majority of lipsticks sold in the US, eyeliner and other cosmetics, costume jewelry, and recycled products. Even some prescription medicines test high for lead and other heavy metals, according to the World Health Organization. If you suspect that you have been exposed, please alert your family doctor. He or she may be able to schedule a routine blood test and instruct you on a purification program if necessary.

Next time you’re setting the table, take a good look at your dishware. If the finish is compromised, it’s time for the trash. Your health is worth a new set of plates, I promise!


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