Unbreakable bowls and plates are a blessing to parents of young children, saving them the worry of cleanup and injury after a ware-shattering incident. New findings from Taiwanese researchers, however, point the finger at this colorful and often cartoon blazoned dinnerware. New findings reveal that the production compound melamine may exist within the plastics at toxic levels, causing kidney stones.
According to Time, the study recently published in JAMA Internal Medicine had half of the participants eat hot noodle soup out of melamine bowls and the other half out of ceramic bowls. Participants’ urine was then tested for leached chemicals, the results of which showed that the urine of the participants who ate out of melamine bowls contained 8.35 micrograms (mcg) of the compound compared to 1.31 mcg in participants who ate from ceramic bowls.
Melamine is not normally toxic, and has actually been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for inclusion in the production of plastics and paper as well as food product packaging, although it has not been approved for use as an additive in human or animal food.
In 2008, a scandal erupted in China after melamine was added to infant formula in order to boost protein levels, and instead caused 50,000 hospitalizations and six deaths.
Researchers of the recent Taiwan study maintain that more research must be done to draw more absolute results, considering that the study centered around only hot contents and not room-temperature or cold contents, prolonged storage, or specific brands of melamine dishware.
“In terms of what science tells us right now, it’s too early to sound the alarm, but we can use reasonable amount of caution,” says Dr. Ken Spaeth, director of the Occupational and Environmental Medicine Center at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, N.Y., who is unaffiliated with the study. “If someone is worried, they can decrease exposure by not buying melamine kitchenware, not heating up food in it or using it for prolonged storage.”
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