Below is the full XRF reading set for the food surface of the plate pictured here (a “Made in Italy” Arte Italica plate with a pressed metal rim). This plate is very unusual, in that the metal rim is solid metal banding that is press-fit to the plate — rather than a glazed or painted decorative illusion — the far more common practice, as found on many other dishes that might look similar in a photo. The dish is also very thick, and very heavy for its size.
Center of food surface of plate:
- Lead (Pb): 439 +/- 36 ppm
- Barium (Ba): 2,407 +/- 134 ppm
- Zinc (Zn): 23,100 +/- 700 ppm
- Copper (Cu): 281 +/- 58 ppm
- Iron (Fe): 1,040 +/- 187 ppm
- Vanadium (V): 1,220 +/- 99 ppm
- Titanium (Ti): 2,767 +/- 187 ppm
- Zirconium (Zr): 12,600 +/- 400 ppm
- Platinum (Pt): 257 +/- 121 ppm
The metal rim on this plate also had the following readings:
- Antimony (Sb): 68,600 +/- 1,500 ppm
- Tin (Sn): 912,100 +/- 4,300 ppm
- Copper (Cu): 7,451 +/- 981 ppm
- Iron (Fe): 5,214 +/- 1,885 ppm
- Titanium (Ti): 5,136 +/- 369 ppm
XRF readings are done in “Consumer Goods Mode” for a minimum of 60 seconds unless otherwise noted. Results are science-based and replicable. Metals not listed above were not detected by the XRF instrument.
Is 439 ppm Lead a problem?
Why is this allowed?
The amount of Lead that is considered unsafe (and illegal) in a newly-manufactured item “intended for use by children” is anything 90 ppm Lead (or higher) in the paint, finish or glaze. Dishes (new and vintage) are not considered to be “items intended for use by children” and as such are not regulated in the same way children’s items are (i.e. with allowable limits on XRF-detectable levels of Lead.) It is my assertion that they should be. If a toy is considered unsafe at 90 ppm Lead, then a dish (which will usually be used by a child with greater frequency and more regularity than any particular toy!) most definitely should be considered unsafe at those same levels.
Is 68,600 ppm Antimony a problem?
Antimony is a known carcinogen (which means it has been studied and proven to have causal links to cancer in animals or humans) and does not belong anywhere near our kitchen table. It especially does not belong in an integrated component of dishes on a surface that you touch with your hands and a surface that will touch your food. In more than ten years of testing consumer goods I have NEVER seen this much Antimony in a plate intended for use with food — and I am frankly stumped by what else to add about this here, but I will likely update this post later with some more coherent thoughts and appropriate links for you to follow up on.
Why is there antimony in this metal rim?
What were they thinking when they made this?
The big problem with this is that this is obviously something that falls in the realm of “Lead-free pewter.” As many other companies have, this company likely substituted high-Antimony, Tin-based pewter for previous uses of Leaded pewter — given the clear understanding that “Lead is bad” (unsafe and unhealthy). The problem with many of these substitutions (in jewelry or dishware for example) is that in removing Lead, more-often-than-not Cadmium and Antimony are being substituted for the Lead — and both of those heavy metals have been clearly demonstrated (by independent scientific research) to cause cancer. This is definitely not something we want anywhere near our food! (Not in our peanut butter jars at low levels, and definitely not in our dishes at outrageous levels – like we have found in this plate).
Isn’t this illegal?
Current Federal standards for dishware are simply not protective of children’s health (nor of human health in general). While a dish might meet current applicable Federal standards for leach-testing of Lead or other toxicants at the time of manufacture, there is no guarantee that the Lead in the glaze might not leach over time (especially with regular daily use – especially with acidic foods and beverages like tomato sauce, lemon juice, vinegar and coffee.) I discuss that more in this post – link.
In fact – I will have to look this up to confirm (and will update the post once I have done that) – but I am fairly certain that there is not ANY current Federal standards restricting either the amount of leachable Antimony from dishes or the total XRF detectable amount of Antimony in food-use products…because no one has yet anticipated that dishware manufacturers would be stupid enough to put Antimony in dishes in the first place. Regulators are simply not yet looking at Antimony to the degree they should. Antimony is (again) a known carcinogen and heavy metal which I am finding everywhere these days …. in pillows, blankets, mattresses, stuffies, plastics, blown glass, couches [where it has been controversially used as a flame retardancy additive for decades], and now dishes!
Would you like to support this advocacy work by sending in one of your dishes for testing (so I can report the results here on this blog and others can benefit from the information)? Click here to learn more about sending in a dish!
As always, thank you for reading and for sharing my posts.
Please let me know if you have any questions.