The Safety of Vintage Tableware
Vintage tableware have become increasingly popular to search for in flea markets and antique shops as people seek unique and charming additions to their everyday table settings. Finnish and international vintage enthusiasts are captivated by items such as vintage Arabian coffee cups, Iittala vintage dishes, patterned Rörstrand dinner plates, and beautifully sparkling old crystal glasses. With the growing trend of second-hand shopping, old ceramic dinner sets and crystal drinking glasses are finding their way onto more and more wish lists.
While embracing vintage is responsible and desirable, caution must be exercised when it comes to materials in contact with food. Many old tableware may harbor a danger that is often overlooked at the time of purchase – the possibility of heavy metals leaching from the dishes during use.
In the past, heavy metals like lead and cadmium were commonly used in the production of tableware. In ceramic products, lead and cadmium were commonly used in glazing and surface colors. Genuine vintage crystal glasses derive their brilliant luster from lead. This casts a new light on old vintage dishes and glassware. Is it even safe to use them?
This casts a new light on old vintage dishes and glassware. Is it even safe to use them?
Lead, a heavy metal that accumulates in the body, poses a significant health risk. Children are particularly sensitive to heavy metals. A child's developing body cannot eliminate heavy metals as efficiently as an adult's, making the harmful effects of lead and cadmium more potent for children.
On average, we ingest around 100 micrograms of lead from various sources daily, but using lead-containing dishes in everyday life can significantly increase this intake. There is no lower limit for lead without harmful effects on humans. Therefore, vintage tableware is suitable only for occasional use, such as during celebrations. So, refrain from using old dishes or crystal glasses in your daily routine.
Vintage tableware is suitable only for occasional use, such as during celebrations.
If you want to use old dishes for special occasions, remember the following:
- Handwashing: Wash old dishes by hand, as dishwasher cycles can further wear down the surfaces of the dishes.
- Check for markings: Ensure that the dishes are indeed intended for dining use. Some decorative dishes may have had a dining restriction label, such as a sticker, which may have come off over the years.
- Beware of lead in crystal: Genuine crystal may leach lead into drinks. Therefore, avoid storing beverages in crystal decanters for extended periods.
Vintage tableware in restaurants?
From a food hygiene standpoint, restaurants and cafes must have safe tableware for customer use. Therefore, chipped or worn-out vintage dishes do not belong in cafes or restaurants. Consequently, using vintage dishes is not recommended in a professional kitchen setting.