For those new to this website:
Tamara Rubin is a multiple-federal-award-winning independent advocate for childhood Lead poisoning prevention and consumer goods safety, and a documentary filmmaker. She is also a mother of Lead-poisoned children (two of her sons were acutely Lead-poisoned in 2005). Since 2009, Tamara has been using XRF technology (a scientific method used by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission) to test consumer goods for toxicants (specifically heavy metals — including Lead, Cadmium, Mercury, Antimony, and Arsenic). Tamara’s work was featured in Consumer Reports Magazine in February 2023 (March 2023 print edition).
Published: Saturday — December 19, 2020
Out of THIRTEEN Mikasa examples currently on the Lead Safe Mama website, only two are in the Lead-safe range; the rest are mostly very high Lead. As a rule, the older they are, the higher the Lead levels — with the highest Lead levels in Mikasa pieces I have tested so far being examples from 1990 to 2000. Since the pieces are not dated, I am not sure how old some of the examples are (and if you have information to help date any of the patterns, please let me know).
One thing I have found very interesting about Mikasa is that many of their designs are plain white, or otherwise what folks might consider “simple,” but most of these simple designs do, in fact, (when tested with an XRF instrument) test positive for very high levels of Lead in the glaze.
The high levels of Lead found in these simple and plain white china patterns is particularly interesting because of the pervasive myth that “white china [or plain undecorated china] is Lead-free.” So please be wary of these “simple” pieces, especially if they were manufactured before 2010. As a guideline I would say that pre-2010 may have unsafe Levels of Lead and post-2016 should be in the Lead-safe or Lead-free range. (I haven’t tested enough examples yet that I can definitely confirm were manufactured in the 2010-2016 window to have a more concrete date indicating a specific intentional shift from Leaded to Lead-free for Mikasa brand dishes.)
My biggest concern for these Mikasa pieces is the designs produced in the 25 year period from 1980 through 2005 — because people do not at this point in time think of these as “old” yet, and so are more likely to imagine they must be safe, just because they they are “newer.” I am actually especially wary of these dishes, because I worked with a family whose child was poisoned (in a newer-construction house, with no detected Lead hazards in his environment) — and Mikasa dishes from c. 1999/2000 (which were tested and found to have very high Lead content), were eventually determined to be one of the likely sources of his Lead exposure, and poisoning. Read more about that, here.
In an effort to help date pieces from this brand, I found this useful bit of information on Mikasa’s website:
“George Aratani founded Mikasa as ‘American Commercial Inc.’ in the state of California in 1948. Initially a dinnerware importer, Mikasa grew into a dinnerware wholesaler over the next twenty years, supplying dinnerware to Bloomingdales, Macy’s, May Department Stores Company and other fine retailers. In 1957, the brand name Mikasa was introduced to the American public.
During the 1970s, Mikasa diversified its product lines, augmenting its already successful dinnerware lines with the introduction of crystal stemware, stainless flatware, crystal gifts and picture frames, ceramic vases, table linens and decorative accessories. Lifetime Brands’ corporate headquarters are located in Garden City, New York, and its distribution centers are located in Robbinsville, New Jersey and Rialto, California.”
This article has links below to quickly and easily view all of the other Mikasa articles on the Lead Safe Mama website.
- Here’s an important overview with a video to help people understand how to navigate the (more than 2,600) articles with information (including consumer goods test results) here on the Lead Safe Mama site! See the article here.
- Here’s the category overview link for MIKASA. When you click this, it will come up with a set of at least 14 articles (at the time of publishing this) that you can scroll through to see all other related pieces.
- Mikasa White Silk Bone China saucer, Made in Japan
- Mikasa Continental Silk Flowers saucer, Made in Japan
- Mikasa Maxima Sorrento Cup and Saucer, Made in Japan
- Mikasa Ultima+ HK 301 Cameo Platinum dish, Made in Indonesia
- Mikasa Platinum Matrix AN060 bone china dish, Made in Indonesia
- Mikasa “Potters Art” Ben Seibel Country Cabin dish, Made in Japan
- 1993 Mikasa English Countryside White coffee mug, Made in Japan
- 1993 Mikasa English Countryside White dinner plate, Made in Malaysia
- Mikasa Winthrop pattern Fine China dinner plate, Made in Japan
- Mikasa French Countryside F9000 saucer
- Mikasa Optima Super Strong Fine China by Christopher Stuart pattern dinner plate in Cafe White (c. 1996-1999), Made in Indonesia
- Mikasa Optima Super Strong Fine China by Christopher Stuart pattern bowl in Cafe White (c. 1996), Made in Indonesia
- Mikasa Optima Super Strong Fine China by Christopher Stuart pattern small dish in Cafe White (c. 1996), Made in Indonesia
- Here’s an article about how to send a dish in for testing (so we add it to the database of information here on the site).
- Here’s a piece with details on how you can make a contribution in support of this work. Thank you!
Additional important reading if you determine your dishes may have unsafe levels of Lead:
- Symptoms of Lead exposure in adults (including possibly symptoms of low-level chronic Lead exposure one might experience from eating daily off of high-Lead dishes).
- My answer to the common statement: “But I ate off of these my entire life and I’m fine!”
- My piece discussing the potential concerns of daily usage of Leaded dishes for food use purposes.
- My overview discussing why home test kits do not work on most dishes.
- An article discussing what you should do with your Lead contaminated dishes (after you have identified them as being possibly unsafe).
Thanks for being here! Thanks for reading. Please let me know if you have any questions, I will do my best to answer them personally as soon as I have a moment (but please be patient … I have had my hands full with kiddos, with no childcare, since the start of the pandemic)!