Questions and answers on tableware and kitchen utensils made of melamine-formaldehyde resin
FAQ of the BfR from 25 November 2019
Melamine-formaldehyde-resins (MFR) are plastics made of melamine and formaldehyde. The material is shatterproof and usually has a smooth surface. Because of these properties, it is also used for the production of tableware and kitchen utensils. In recent years, alternative products such as bamboo fibres have been used increasingly as fillers for the plastic. These products are often advertised as "bamboo ware". One typical application are reusable "coffee to go" cups.
For both melamine and formaldehyde European limit values exist that specify maximum amounts which may be released from articles into food (migration limits).
Results of investigations conducted by the official control laboratories of the federal states and the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) have shown that plates, cups, bowls and other consumer articles made from MFR can release melamine and formaldehyde when used for cooking food. In some cases, the quantities released were significantly higher than the migration limits and the health-based guidance value derived by the BfR. When filling with very hot foods (e.g. tea, coffee), high amounts of melamine or formaldehyde may also be released. In addition, long-term tests by the official control laboratories of the federal states and the BfR showed that MFR is not stable when in contact with hot food. The plastic is eroded and degrades.
Therefore, from the BFR's point of view, dishes made of MFR are not suitable for contact with hot liquid foods (e.g. coffee, soup or infant formula) or for use in microwave ovens.
Below, the BfR has put together questions and answers on kitchen utensils and tableware made of MFR.