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Everything You Need to Know About Melamine Dinnerware

Everything You Need to Know About Melamine Dinnerware

Last updated on 3/3/2022

Melamine dinnerware is made from a lightweight, durable, and heat-resistant material. Its design allows your staff to carry large serving trays, deliver meals faster, and avoid straining themselves. Additionally, it is available in many forms, with melamine bowls, saucers, display trays, ramekins, fry cones, and even chopsticks to choose from. Manufacturers produce melamine tableware in a wide range of colors and styles, making it an aesthetically versatile product that enhances almost every setting.

Shop All Melamine Dinnerware

Melamine dinnerware can increase your customers’ perception of your business and save you money. Read on to discover the benefits of melamine plastic, how to care for it, and what makes it so unique.

Click any of the sections below to answer your specific melamine questions:
  1. Melamine Definition
  2. Benefits of Melamine
  3. Safety of Melamine Use
  4. Steps to Care for Melamine
  5. Melamine FAQs

What Is Melamine Made Of?

french toast on beige melamine plate

Melamine is made of a chemical compound that is organic-based and nitrogen-rich. Its durable and heat-resistant qualities make it perfect for producing strong plastic dinnerware, laminates, and glues. Manufacturers create melamine’s signature durability by blending melamine resin with strengthening materials. You can purchase melamine tableware in virtually every color, design, and shape.

Top 10 Benefits of Melamine Dinnerware

Read our list of the top benefits of melamine plastic to learn why foodservice operators are switching to melamine dinnerware.

  1. Food-Safe Plastic: The FDA approves melamine as a safe plastic for serving food.
  2. Affordable: Melamine dishes are an economical alternative to china.
  3. Mimics Other Materials: Lightweight melamine can be finished to look like real stoneware, china, or wood.
  4. Save on Replacement Costs: Melamine is difficult to break, chip, or scratch.
  5. Lightweight: Protect your staff from strains with lightweight melamine dinnerware.
  6. Temperature-Resistant: Melamine doesn't absorb the heat from plated foods, reducing accidental burns.
  7. Dishwasher Safe: Expedite clean-up and eliminate germs with dishwasher safe melamine plastic.
  8. Offers Sustainable Options: Choose an eco-friendly, biodegradable melamine dinnerware line.
  9. Versatile Designs: Melamine comes in virtually every color, shape, and style.
  10. All Serving Areas Can Use the Same Dishes: Thanks to its durability, you can use the same melamine dinnerware line in your dining room, patio, and poolside bar.

Melamine Safety

pineapple and blackberries in a red melamine bowl

The affordability and durability of melamine dishes are undeniably attractive, but safety concerns make some question whether a different type of dinnerware is a better investment. From plating to microwave use, we answer the most frequently asked questions about melamine safety in the sections below.

Is Melamine Safe?

While some reports question the safety of melamine dishes, the FDA’s Safety and Risk Assessment of Melamine states that this type of plastic tableware is safe for use. As long as you don’t heat your food to 160 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, the chemicals in melamine will not transfer into your meal.

While some melamine items contain safe amounts of BPA, many brands offer certified BPA-free melamine products. Purchasing BPA-free melamine products can increase your customers’ trust in your brand. Many lines of melamine dinnerware and kitchen tools meet NSF food safety requirements.

Is Melamine Dishwasher Safe?

Melamine tableware is considered 100% dishwasher safe. Most variations of melamine servingware can handle temperatures that exceed recommended dishwasher temperatures. Additionally, melamine can retain high heat, allowing it to dry faster than standard dishware.

Is Melamine Microwave Safe?

Melamine dinnerware is not microwave safe. Although melamine is designed to withstand high temperatures, it should never have contact with food while it is being heated.

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How to Care For Melamine

To extend the life of your melamine dinnerware, try following these simple guidelines:

  • Do not use serrated knives on melamine products.
  • Do not use melamine products in a conventional oven.
  • Do not use melamine products in a microwave oven.
  • Do not use chlorine bleach on melamine products.
  • Do not use harsh abrasive cleaners, steel wool, or metal scouring pads on melamine products.

Melamine FAQs

tomato bisque in black melamine tapered bowl

Trying to decide if melamine dinnerware is right for your business? We answer common questions about melamine dishes to help you determine whether you should invest in melamine plastic products.

How Does Melamine Affect Presentation?

Bright, chip-free melamine tableware can improve your customers’ perception of your business. According to a third-party survey, plateware that is clean, bright, and chip-free improves diners’ overall perception of eateries. Participants did not state a preference for china, but agreed that paper plates are undesirable. Since china chips easily and consumers dislike paper products, durable melamine tableware is a practical solution. If you select a color or pattern that fades over time, melamine dinnerware is inexpensive to replace.

There are dozens of designer melamine lines created to mimic the look of fine china and other ceramic dinnerware. Available in both solid color and patterned designs, you will find the perfect high-end melamine dinnerware to match your restaurant theme. Because melamine is so versatile, you can get the same visually appealing presentation from melamine that you can from other materials like porcelain, china, or even slate.

Is Melamine Tolerant to Hot and Cold Uses?

Melamine plastic is tolerant to both hot and cold use. It holds temperatures longer than other types of plastic, but it also takes a long time for its temperature to change. This is because melamine is an insulator, not a conductor. Melamine will stay cool to the touch when serving hot foods because the food does not produce enough heat for a long enough period to change the temperature of the material itself. This protects restaurant servers and diners from burn hazards associated with hot plates and other servingware. Thanks to its heat-resistant properties, melamine is also great for kitchen tools used for handling hot soups and boiling water.

Because melamine is such a great insulator, it’s also ideal for cold food and buffet displays. Melamine food pans are perfect for deli displays, butcher shop cases, and salad bars. Place melamine in ice-filled containers to keep plated items cool at catered events.

Is Melamine Breakable?

Melamine dinnerware is extremely difficult to break, but there have been instances of chipping around the edges when it’s subjected to harsh use. Unlike typical china or porcelain, melamine will not shatter if dropped and is less likely to chip than other traditional dinnerware materials. Look for melamine dinnerware models with reinforced rims and feet for additional durability.

Where Is Melamine Used?

charcuterie board with green and red melamine dishes

Thanks to its durable, lightweight construction, melamine is a popular choice for a variety of commercial settings, like dining halls, daycare facilities, and assisted living communities. However, you can find designer melamine dinnerware that looks just like handcrafted ceramic for sophisticated restaurants. The low risk of breakage makes melamine plates an ideal choice for restaurants that serve appetizers poolside, on a rooftop, or at the beach. Wood-finished melamine serving trays are perfect for serving charcuterie because they have the same rustic appeal as a true wood board but are dishwasher safe.

There’s melamine tableware designed for just about every application, from contemporary catered events to Mexican restaurants. Melamine molcajete bowls have the same mortar and pestle look as traditional salsa and guacamole bowls, without the weight and expense. For your Chinese restaurant or hibachi grill, check out the traditional decorations that adorn our Asian-inspired dinnerware collection. From bistros to barbecue shacks, you can find melamine dishes that suits the decor of nearly any foodservice establishment.

Is Melamine Expensive?

When you compare melamine to traditional tableware, it is typically the most affordable option. The exact cost of melamine tableware varies by brand, design, and pattern. Because melamine dinnerware has a much lower replacement rate than china, investing in melamine dinnerware saves you money both up-front and long term. Melamine has an annual replacement rate of around 10 to 20%, whereas china has a replacement rate between 50 and 150%. While china and ceramic dinnerware shatter when dropped, melamine’s durable construction stands up to use and abuse. No more replacing plates, cups, bowls, and other servingware after every accident.

Can Melamine Be Recycled?

In most cases, melamine should not be recycled. It is categorized under Class #7 on the list of Plastic Resin Codes, placing it outside the more commonly used #1-6 classifications. Because of its heat-resistant qualities, recycling plants can’t melt melamine like other plastics. However, some plants can grind it down and use it as a filler for other plastics or wood composites. Ask your local recycling center for more details about how to dispose of your traditional melamine products.

Eco-friendly lines like Elite Global Solutions Greenovations are changing the way restaurateurs think about recycling melamine. Made of 50% bamboo and 50% melamine, this eco-conscious dinnerware is biodegradable. It boasts the same durable features as regular melamine and, like all melamine, is dishwasher safe. The GET BambooMel line offers a similar “go green” business model.

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If you’re constantly replacing shattered china or porcelain dishware, switching to durable melamine dishes could save you a lot of money. Melamine is an attractive option for any setting and a wise choice for dining halls and high-volume operations. Using melamine in your business reduces the frequency of dishware breakage, and its heat resistance prevents customers and staff from having to handle hot serving ware. For a versatile dinnerware material, use melamine in your foodservice establishment.

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