While I will go in to more specifics below I think we really ought to be questioning an industry that uses cadmium at all (regardless of whether or not they test their items and somehow, by some standards – determine them to be safe for cookware or otherwise.)
If cadmium is present at high levels in certain cookware (as with most of the brightly colored Le Creuset items I have tested) it is being added as an ingredient (trace levels would indicate a contaminant and not an ingredient.)
At high levels (for example manufacturers intentionally using cadmium to create vibrant reds, oranges and yellows) not only should we have a concern that it is on our dishware, casseroles and tea-kettles, but we should also be concerned that these manufacturers are creating and sustaining a market for this toxic element – giving rise to the need for mining, refining and processing – which contaminates our planet, the environment and the workers who process these toxicants in other ways.
As with lead, there does not seem to be a regulation specifically limiting the total amount of cadmium legally allowed in dishes or kitchenware (as detectable with an XRF.)
However, for items intended for children in the six states that have specific regulations (as of 2014) the limits (what is considered toxic to children ) appear to range from 40 ppm and above to 300 ppm and above.
As always, I feel it is prudent to go with the lowest (most strict) toxicity limit for any toxic chemical – so, based on this information, I would feel comfortable saying that items with 40 ppm cadmium or more should not be considered safe for use by children. As always – please read the following information and then do your own research to make sure you are making choices for your family that you are comfortable with.
In my reading of the following (see screenshots and click them to get to original article)… dishes with 40 ppm cadmium or higher could possibly be considered illegal in Washington State as they could be used in feeding an infant; however, I would imagine it could also be argued (by dish manufacturers) that these dishes are not manufactured specifically for children so are not subject to regulation under this specific legislation. To counter that I would say… is it reasonable to assume that a family will purchase dishes and then never feed a child off of them? Family dishes (general household dishes) can be used to feed the family’s children and should therefore be covered (considered toxic at 40 ppm cadmium or higher) in Washington State.
FYI—Washington State appears to be the only state (as of the January 2014 writing of this article) that includes cadmium restrictions in items intended to specifically be used to feed children.
As I have found several colors of the new Fiestaware (among other newly manufactured dishes) with cadmium levels higher than 40 ppm, I would not personally be comfortable feeding my family on these more colorful Fiestware dishes. [The white ones were negative for cadmium, FYI – although some of the newer white Fiestaware did test positive for trace-lead when tested with an XRF.]
I’m going to follow up with Doug Farquhar on this one!
My opinions are my own 😉