Introduction (for those new to this website):
Tamara Rubin is an independent advocate for consumer goods safety. She is also a mother of Lead-poisoned children. She began testing consumer goods for toxicants in 2009 and was the parent-advocate responsible for finding Lead in the popular fidget spinner toys in 2017. Tamara uses XRF testing (a scientific method used by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission) to test consumer goods for toxicants, including Lead, Cadmium, Mercury and Arsenic.
Originally Published: December 26, 2019
Updated: July 27, 2020
Please scroll to bottom to see grid with patterns I have tested.
While my work is often criticized by vintage dishware fans, as it turns out even Corelle recommends that you stop using vintage/“older”* (pre-2005) decorated Corelle pieces for functional food use purposes. Please scroll down and continue reading to see a screenshot of Corelle’s response about this matter to one of the readers of this blog.
In the communication below [an exchange which was prompted by my findings of high levels of Lead in the painted colorful decorative elements of many Corelle pieces] a representative from Corelle confirms that the company knows that they used Lead in their pieces through the mid-2000s [which I am assuming means through 2005] – at which point (she states) Corelle (apparently by choice and design) stopped using Lead in their decorative dishware patterns.
*Note: the language is tricky here — as the term “vintage”, in general usage – is commonly understood to denote items twenty years of age or older – so, pre-2005 would not technically be “vintage” yet. This potential confusion is exacerbated by the fact that Corelle had never to my knowledge included any type of markings indicating the exact year of manufacture of any of their products — making it difficult or impossible to determine, with any precision, when a particular piece was made.
In the communication below, the Corelle representative also alludes to the fact that this a potential risk to the consumer, as they specifically recommended that my reader stop using these Leaded pieces as functional dishware and instead only use these items as “decorative pieces”. Frankly this is a huge breakthrough — this is the first time I have seen Corelle (or any manufacturer, really) responsibly acknowledge the presence of Lead in their vintage products as a legitimate potential concern in this way, even tacitly. Please read the full exchange below.
A reader of my blog (Jennifer) sent the following e-mail to Corelle:
“I have a collection of various Corelle dishes. I love them as they are so durable and light. I recently learned that the paint/glaze on many patterns tests positive for Lead. I’m really concerned about this as my child and I both use these and we have both had elevated Lead levels in the past. With the constant use and fact that these are eaten off of, I don’t think any Lead is safe or worth the risk. I can’t afford to buy new Corelle plain white dishes and not sure what to do with the ones I have. Please let me know what my options are. I would also like to know when Corelle plans to stop using Lead in the products.
Here’s the response Jennifer got from Corelle….
There is a screenshot of it below. This was from on/about December 23, 2019:
“Thank you for contacting contacting Corelle Brands.
Prior to the 1990s, virtually all glass and ceramic ware made anywhere in the world contained Lead as a primary ingredient in the decorating fluxes and glazes. All our products have been Lead free since the mid-2000’s. Lead content has never been regulated until recently. We recommend using the items you have as decorative pieces. We hope this information is helpful.
You can see a screenshot of this e-mail below.
Please continue reading below the image!
I have been writing about this for almost 10 years.
I have been reporting that Corelle pieces are high in Lead (and Cadmium) for about a decade now — since shortly after I started testing consumer goods for toxicants using XRF technology.
There are many examples of pieces here on my blog that are high-Lead or high-Cadmium Corelle dishware. Unfortunately, the above e-mail was not an official press release from Corelle, but a simple exchange between one of their representatives and one of my readers. However, it is definitely a statement from (and on behalf of) the company and the brand.
It is lamentable – but understandable/to be expected (in the context of competitive capitalism) – that with the language used the Corelle representative felt compelled to try to qualify/limit the corporation’s responsibility for using neurotoxic Lead in the paint/glaze/decorative coating of their dishware through 2005 – by asserting that, “Prior to the 1990s,virtually all glass and ceramic ware made anywhere in the world contained Lead” [which is a hyperbolic claim — although I would agree that it is arguably true of a great deal of vintage dishware – but by no means “virtually all”…!]
Does Corelle definitely have safe options now?
While I am disappointed in the fact that Corelle’s representative tried to diminish the company’s responsibility for their manufacturing of toxic products in the past, I am truly thankful that they now are a market leader in creating Lead-free dishware. I will continue to recommend the plain white versions of their products as one of the most consistently Lead-free dishware option on the market today. The image below is the Corelle dish pattern that I use in my home for my family. The Bella Faenza pattern is one of their patterns where the detail is embossed into the glass (as a texture, not a design that is painted on). All of these “embossed” Corelle dishes are Lead-free (as long as there are no colored elements.) The plain white ones without an decorative elements are also Lead-free (here’s an example on Amazon).
I would love to see a bold further step taken by the company — in the form of an invitation for consumers to exchange their vintage product for new Lead-free product – either with a simple dish-per-dish swap, or perhaps offering those who own their vintage product a signifiant discount on equivalent new Lead & Cadmium-free (unadorned) replacement products.
Please note that even though their new products do tend to be completely Lead-free, these products have been testing positive for Cadmium (in certain colors) – at levels that I would also consider potentially concerning, given Cadmium is a known carcinogen. It is for this reason that I only ever recommend their plain white (unadorned) products — including their lovely embossed plain white designs – which is what I use in my home.
Some additional reading:
- To see more Corelle pieces that I have tested and found to have Lead and Cadmium, click here.
- To see more vintage dishware I have tested, click here.
- To see the only other response my readers have previously shared with me from Corning (the original parent company of Corelle), click here.
- To see the plain white Corelle dishes that I use every day in my home, click here.* Note: these can often be bought cheaper at Target than on Amazon.
*Amazon links are affiliate links. If you purchase something after clicking on one of my links I may receive a small percentage of what you spend –at no extra cost to you.
Each image below is a link to a post with the XRF test results for the item pictured.
I will be updating the grid below with Corelle pieces shortly. Thank you for being here. All of the testing that I report on on my blog is science-based, accurate and replicable, using the latest scientific technology for testing for toxicants in consumer goods.