With a nod to Charles Dickens, “It was the best of bowls, it was the worst of bowls…”
Okay, a tad dramatic, but…
Each of these two bowls is contemporary and currently manufactured by a European company.
Each is intended for everyday use with food.
Each is approximately the same shape and size.
Each is considered very FASHIONABLE (as we live in a world in which the fashion of our daily dishes makes a statement.)
EACH contains some amount of both lead and cadmium* – potent neurotoxins that cause ailments like brain damage and cancer.
Bowl number one is made by Waechtersbach of Germany and features a bright red colored glaze over a natural earthenware.
Bowl number two is made by Emile Henry of France – in the 21.21 product line and is also a bright (yellow this time) glaze over a natural tone earthenware base.
The RED bowl had 42,600 parts per million lead (plus or minus 1,300 ppm) and 3,818 parts per million cadmium (plus or minus 174 ppm.)
The YELLOW bowl (which features a white glazed interior) had lead-levels in the 129-140 ppm range (plus or minus 20 ppm) and 10 to 40 ppm cadmium (plus or minus 5 or 10 ppm cadmium respectively.) So these two similar fashionable new bowls vary by two orders of magnitude in terms of environmental toxicity!
Is it safe to eat out of either of these bowls?
Which is safer?
Have the manufacturers done leach testing?
Can I trust the manufacturers?
As each of these bowls is of European origin (and Europe generally has much stricter standards for toxicity than we do here in the United States) – it is VERY LIKELY – that the manufactures have done leach testing and that each bowl (at least at the time of manufacture – read more HERE) “passed safety testing”. If you own one of these brands, and especially if these are your everyday dishes (and therefore a BIG part of your life) I would consider calling the manufacturer and asking to see the white paper on leach testing they did, to confirm whatever other statements they make about this concern.
Obviously, I personally would certainly feel more comfortable with the yellow dishes—which at least conform to reasonable norms and would presumably pass all of even the strictest safety standards worldwide; if I saw these yellow dishes at a friends house, I would not be concerned about eating off of them
…The red ones however – would give me pause.
Still there is that nagging question: If we have countless modern examples of glazed ceramics that contain NO lead** at all (as well as no cadmium or other environmentally disastrous and toxic heavy metals) why should I tacitly accept the continued presence of these toxicants in any newly manufactured items—by buying them and using them in my home?
[Honestly, in the case of the yellow bowl, the numbers are low enough to be considered merely “trace contaminants”, rather than some sort of intentional added ingredient in the glaze, but it’s still indicative of how ubiquitous these elemental neurotoxins have become in our world.]
*(as tested with a Niton XRF for at least 60 seconds each.) Read about our XRF Testing HERE.
**For instance, nearly all IKEA dishes I have tested for lead with my Niton XRF (testing items in “Consumer Goods/Test All” mode) have been “nondetect” (completely negative) – in terms of not even 1 ppm of lead detected! Very few (two items so far) from Ikea that I have tested were positive, but each of those was also below the global standard for lead toxicity of 90 ppm in total lead content. [90 ppm or above is considered unsafe for use by a child – but this standard is only applied to items manufactured as intended for children.]
NOTE – LEAD FREE vs. NON LEACHING: Several manufacturers are erroneously marketing their dishes and cookware as lead-free. In our opinion, “lead-free” implies no lead content at all. When we have found lead in these items and inquired with the manufacturers regarding the veracity of these statements we were told they did not test the item using XRF testing (which measures total lead content), but used leach-testing methodology (a valid method of testing dishware.) However we urge these companies to change their language from “lead-free” to “non-leaching” or perhaps “lead-safe”—as that is what they are intending in erroneously calling it “lead-free” (that the leach testing they have done has found no detectable lead leached into the solution used in the testing.)