Dishes, dishes, and other melamine resin-based cooking utensils can release melamine and formaldehyde when heated, and a quantity of these harmful substances can migrate into food. Studies conducted by the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) – the national body that deals with food safety in Germany – and by the control authorities of the federal states, show that when these materials are subjected to excessive heat they are exceeded the limit values foreseen for these chemical compounds.
In the case of formaldehyde there is also a health risk related to inhaling the substance. “Consumers should not use melamine resin kitchen utensils and tableware for frying, cooking and reheating food in a microwave oven,” advises Andreas Hensel, president of the BfR. If, on the other hand, the tools are used at temperatures below 70 ° C, there is no danger.
Melamine resins are tough, tough plastics made from melamine and formaldehyde with a smooth surface. Thanks to these properties they are widely used for the production of kitchen utensils and other everyday objects.
The study results show that when the material is subjected to excessive heat , it releases a significant amount of melamine and formaldehyde. The phenomenon is visible because the surfaces of the objects lose their natural luster. If the surface is damaged, the disintegration process – and therefore the release of substances to food – is faster.
The current provisions of the EU regulation on food plastics provide for a migration limit of 30 mg / kg for melamine. In 2010 a new assessment, the European Food Safety Authority (Efsa) reduced the tolerable daily dose, without however adjusting the migration limit (for formaldehyde the migration limit is instead of 15 mg / kg).