What is Melamine?
Melamine is a hard plastic. More specifically, it's an organic industrial compound created by combining melamine resin with strengthening materials. That means it can stand up to the rigors of everyday use.
Is Melamine Safe?
Many reports have surfaced questioning the hazards of melamine tableware. However, the FDA's Safety and Risk Assessment of Melamine states that this type of plastic tableware is safe for use. The study concludes that the chemicals in melamine will not migrate, or transfer, into food product as long your food is not heated to 160 degrees Fahrenheit or higher.
While some melamine products may contain safe amounts of BPA, many brands offer certified BPA-free melamine products if that is a concern of your customers. Additionally, many lines of melamine dinnerware and kitchen tools meet NSF approval for food safety.
Is Melamine Dishwasher Safe?
Unlike glazed dishes, melamine tableware is 100% dishwasher safe. In fact, many lines of melamine servingware can handle heat that exceeds recommended dishwasher water temperatures. And thanks to melamine's high heat-retaining properties, it dries faster than standard dishware.
Is Melamine Microwave Safe?
As mentioned above, melamine can withstand high temperatures, but it should not be heated while in contact with food. For this reason, use in the microwave is not recommended.
Is Melamine Breakable?
Melamine is extremely difficult to break, but there have been instances of chipping around the edges of melamine dishware when it's handled very roughly. The good news is that melamine will not shatter if dropped, like typical china or porcelain would, and is overall far more durable than any other traditional dinnerware material. Due to it's durable construction, melamine dinnerware has a much lower replacement rate than china. For example, melamine has an annual replacement rate of around 10 to 20%, whereas china has a replacement rate between 50 and 150%. Plus, melamine is relatively resistant to scratch marks from forks, knives, and other utensils. Look for models with a reinforced rim and foot for additional durability.
Is Melamine Tolerant to Hot and Cold Uses?
Melamine is an insulator, not a conductor. This means that while it may maintain temperatures longer than other types of plastic, it takes a long time for the temperature of the material to change. So, melamine stays cool to the touch when serving hot foods because the food does not produce enough heat for a long enough period of time to change the temperature of the material itself. This protects restaurant servers and diners from burn hazards associated with hot plates and other servingware. Thanks to its heat-resistant properties, melamine is also great for kitchen tools that are used when handling hot soups and boiling water.
Because melamine is such a great insulator, it's also ideal for cold food and buffet displays. Melamine food pans are great for cold applications like deli displays, buffets, salad bars, and more. For a stylish catered display, place melamine in an ice-filled container to keep plated items cool.
Where is Melamine Used?
Thanks to its durable, light weight construction, melamine is a popular choice for a variety of commercial settings, like dining halls, day care facilities, and assisted living communities. However, you can find designer melamine dinnerware that looks just like handcrafted ceramic for an upscale feel that's appropriate in more sophisticated restaurants. The low risk of breakage makes melamine an ideal choice for restaurants that serve appetizers poolside or on the beach. From bistros to barbecue shacks, you can find melamine dinnerware that suits the decor of nearly any foodservice establishment. Melamine's durability makes it ideal for use in a variety of outdoor or high-volume settings.