Melamine dinnerware has enjoyed recent surges in popularity among foodservice operators thanks to advances in alternative material design. Now available in a variety of styles, food service operators enjoy different decorating themes supported by modern melamine. From sleek and understated to modern cosmopolitan, melamine dinnerware looks just like porcelain, but is also break-resistant, dishwasher-safe, and often less expensive than porcelain. Is Melamine Dinnerware Microwave-Safe?
But of all the advantages that melamine dinnerware brings to food service, there’s at least one thing it doesn’t do well: melamine dinnerware isn’t a great candidate for the microwave. GET is one of the leading authorities on melamine tableware with over 30 years of experience. We’ll tell you why we recommend keeping your melamine dinnerware out of the microwave if you’re in a commercial food service, and what will happen if you microwave it anyway. We all break the rules sometimes, right?
What does microwaveable really mean?
We should establish that microwavable means different things to different people. The Good Housekeeping Research Institute (GHRI) surveyed 2,000 consumers on this topic and came up with some interesting results. For some, microwaveable means zero chance of a dish exploding. For others, it meant that the chemicals would not migrate into the food.
The good news is that melamine dinnerware does not release chemicals, either in or out of the microwave. It will also not explode from microwave use. Still, we recommend keeping melamine dinnerware out of the microwave in a commercial foodservice setting.
Who heats melamine crockery in the microwave?
Everybody. Well, not everyone, but in residential use, melamine dinnerware is often heated in the microwave. Even at GET, most of our employees have microwaved their melamine at some point. You’ve probably also microwaved melamine at home. But residential use is a far cry from commercial kitchens.
At home, your dinnerware doesn’t go through the same amount of turnover as dishes in high-volume foodservice. And your home dishwasher and microwave are pretty quiet compared to their noisy commercial equivalents. Basically, home use and commercial use are not the same.
If you want to microwave your melamine dinnerware at home, that’s entirely up to you. If you want to microwave it at your food service establishment, we’ll tell you what to expect.
What happens if you microwave the melamine dinnerware anyway?
Wood pulp is the base component of melamine tableware. When melamine dinnerware is microwaved or generally exposed to temperatures above 160°F (regardless of heat source) on a regular basis or for a long period of time, eventually dry off. Imagine a tree that hasn’t been watered in a long time. Its branches would be weak, brittle, and would break more easily than if it were well watered.
Melamine dinnerware performs the same way when frequently microwaved or exposed to temperatures above 160°F. The thirsty material will eventually brown, become brittle, and break, chip, or crack long before its normal lifespan must end.
Ultimately, GET knows how important it is for foodservice operators to have dinnerware that not only looks great, but is functional and has a long shelf life. We care about your bottom line, which is why we do everything we can to help educate our customers on the best ways to care for their tableware. So keep your melamine dinnerware out of the microwave and generally follow care and maintenance. You will be well served by these products for years to come, your guests will enjoy sophisticated tables and your brand status will be maintained.